HOVENSA requests 2nd extension for sales process

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ST. CROIX - The owners of HOVENSA have requested another extension on the sales process period, which is the time frame when their shuttered refinery on St. Croix's South Shore is to be up for sale and is laid out in their agreement with the V.I. Government.

Attorney George Dudley, local counsel for HOVENSA, Hess Oil Virgin Islands Corp. and PDVSA, said Friday that his clients had requested more time for the sales process period from Gov. John deJongh Jr.

However, Dudley declined to answer questions about the length of the requested extension until the governor has made a decision.

The Fourth Amendment Agreement between the V.I. Government and HOVENSA originally set up a period when the refinery would be for sale that only lasted through Aug. 15 - but the parties agreed to a 15-day extension, which expires today.

Government House spokesman Jean Greaux Jr. said Friday afternoon that he did not know what the plan was moving forward or whether an extension is in the works. He said he would check.

Later, though, Greaux sent a text message saying that no information would be forthcoming Friday night.

Dudley said that the sales process is "ongoing" but declined to be more specific about the stage the process is in or about whether there were interested buyers at this point.

"I'd do the community a disservice by speculating, so I'm going to say the process continues," Dudley said.

In January 2012, HOVENSA announced that it would stop refining oil and planned to operate its refinery on St. Croix as an oil storage terminal.

That decision led to negotiations between the company and the V.I. government, with an eye toward revising the existing concession agreement HOVENSA had with the government.

After more than a year, those negotiations led to a proposed Fourth Amendment Agreement that had HOVENSA agreeing to a sales process for the refinery, with an experienced investment banking firm, and the government agreeing to allow HOVENSA to operate the refinery site as an oil storage terminal while it is up for sale.

In August 2013, the 30th Legislature initially rejected the proposed agreement, but it reversed that decision and ratified the agreement three months later, after the government and HOVENSA provided some clarifications senators had requested.

HOVENSA is a joint venture between wholly-owned subsidiaries of Hess Corporation and Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. The subsidiaries, Hess Oil Virgin Islands Corp. and PDVSA V.I., Inc., each own 50 percent of HOVENSA.

HOVENSA spokesman Alex Moorhead on Friday said the company had no comment on the sales process.

- Contact Joy Blackburn at 714-9145 or email jblackburn@dailynews.vi.

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