Dec. 5, 2002 – A spokesman for Amerada Hess said on Thursday that there has been no interruption in production at the Hovensa refinery on St. Croix as a result of a general strike in Venezuela and the decision by oil tanker pilots to anchor their ships off shore and join the action.
Hovensa is a joint venture of Amerada Hess, owner of Hess Oil Virgin Islands Corp., and Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A., the huge state-owned oil company commonly known by the initials PDVSA. The joint venture was formed in early 2000 to build a $600 million coker plant at the St. Croix refinery that was begun in June of that year and completed this past August.
The coker allows the refinery to process a heavier and less-expensive grade of Venezuelan crude oil into petroleum and gasoline products than had been possible previously. The plant processes 270,000 barrels of Venezuelan crude a day.
The participation of the tanker pilots in the strike in Venezuela has apparently not disturbed operations at the St. Croix plant. "Thus far we're fine," Carl Tursi, Amerada Hess vice president and corporate secretary, said Thursday at the company's headquarters in New York. "I understand we are operating at almost 100 percent capacity at Hovensa."
He added, however: "I couldn't answer what's going to happen a week from now."
Should there be an interruption of shipping, Tursi said, it would not immediately affect operations at the refinery, because of the reserves of crude oil stored at the St. Croix facility.
"We have substantial storage in the Virgin Islands," he said, with large reserves of both crude and processed petroleum. But he said he could not give the capacity, or say "how full we are."
The strike in Venezuela was brought about in part by political opposition to the country's president, Hugo Chavez, who was ousted in a strike-related coup in April but reclaimed power two days later. Hess and Hovensa officials say there are no indications that unrest in the South American nation has had any impact on the St. Croix refinery.
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