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2018 Election / Breaking News / Business / Featured / News / Politics / Top Stories / Videos / Virgin Islands / November 16, 2018

British Petroleum, the multinational oil and gas company headquartered in London, England, has reached a definitive agreement with Limetree Bay Refining, LLC, to restart oil refining on the south shore of St. Croix, Limetree Bay announced today.

The announcement follows a November 4 press release which communicated that the parties had reached agreement in principle. Limetree Bay Refining anticipates completion of the restart by late 2019.

“This agreement marks a significant milestone for the refinery restart effort,” said Governor Kenneth Mapp in a statement. “To date, the project has brought 1100 construction jobs to the territory. With more than US$1.5 billion of total capital investment in the project, we can look forward to a period of significant growth in employment and the economy. This is a great day for the U.S. Virgin Islands. I thank the representatives of Limetree Bay Refining for their commitment to our territory and look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship.” The agreement was first announced by Hydro Carbon Engineering.

The Consortium first broke the news about the oil refinery’s restart and a deal with BP on June 6. Then, on July 2, Governor Kenneth Mapp and ArcLight Partners — the owners of both the Limetree Bay Oil Storage Terminal and Limetree Bay Refining — announced the landmark agreement.

The oil refining restart is expected to bring an addition of 700 permanent jobs to the already 750 employees currently working at Limetree Bay. Under the new agreement, 200,000 barrels of crude oil will be produced daily, a number that pales in comparison to HOVENSA’s heyday output of 700,000 barrels per day, but one that is significant nonetheless.

“This agreement is great news for the people of the Virgin Islands as we continue to grow and expand our economy,” the governor proclaimed in July. “The restart of the refinery will inject hundreds of millions of dollars into our economy, generate new tax revenues to our government, and create hundreds of non-refinery jobs in addition to those created at the refinery itself.”

While the St. Croix economy stands to benefit the most from the restart, the governor said oil refining will fuel growth territory-wide. To back this up, Mr. Mapp in July announced a 110-room “upscale lifestyle” hotel branded as either Hilton, Hyatt or Intercontinental to be constructed on St. Thomas (full story on the new hotel). Additionally, he said, the Government Employees’ Retirement System (G.E.R.S.) will receive a direct flow of funding from the agreement to help it remain solvent for at least the next five years (story on G.E.R.S.). The Senate has placed on hold the new hotel and G.E.R.S. portions of the governor’s proposal.

The deal is also expected to clear the release of $70 million for the government, which will be dedicated to the following projects:

AMOUNT                                   Dedicated to:                               

$25 million   –  GERS Solvency (distributed by the Public Finance Authority)

$10 million   – Investment/Partnership  for New,Upscale Hotel at Yacht Haven Grande

$10 million   –  Income Tax Refunds

$3 million     –  Judicial Branch Operations for Upcoming Fiscal Year

$2 million     –  Relocation/Development of Legislative Complex on St. Croix

$7 million     –  Payment for Outstanding Obligations to Waste Management Authority Vendors

$3 million     –  St. Croix Capital Improvement Fund

$4 million    –  Paul E. Joseph Stadium

$6 million    –  Construction of a Bitumen Storage Tank (outlined in original Limetree Bay operating agreement)

$2 million    –   St. John Capital Improvement Fund

$1 million    –   Reconstruction of the St. John Battery Destroyed during Hurricane Irma

The announcement from BP and Limetree Bay Refining comes at a critical moment for Governor Kenneth Mapp, who is currently in the battle of his political life, as he attempts to fend off the Bryan-Roach campaign, which has been on the receiving end of a number of endorsements after coming out ahead of Mr. Mapp during the General Election, but not collecting enough votes — 50 plus 1 percent — needed to clinch victory. (Mr. Bryan ended the night of Nov. 6 with 37.93 percent of the votes, to Mr. Mapp’s 33.721 percent.) Now, Mr. Mapp and Mr. Bryan are in a battle to the end, and voters will head to the poll one last time this election cycle on November 20 to decide who will lead the U.S. Virgin Islands for the next four years.

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Ernice Gilbert
I wear many hats, I suppose, but the one which fits me best would be journalism, second to that would be radio personality, thirdly singer/songwriter and down the line. I've been the Editor-In-Chief at my videogames website, Gamesthirst, for over 5 years, writing over 7,000 articles and more than 2 million words. I'm also very passionate about where I live, the United States Virgin Islands, and I'm intent on making it a better place by being resourceful and keeping our leaders honest. VI Consortium was birthed out of said desire, hopefully my efforts bear fruit. Reach me at [email protected].

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