PDVSA Releases Tax Claims Against V.I., OKs Sale

The Board of Directors of Petroleos de Venezuela, South America (PDVSA), one of the two entities that own the shuttered Hovensa facility on St. Croix, has approved the sale of the facility and agreed to waive its tax claims against the government of the Virgin Islands, Gov. Kenneth E. Mapp said Friday in a news release from Government House.

“This is another major milestone in this transaction and a step toward the path to economic recovery for the people of the Virgin Islands, and particularly St. Croix,” Mapp said after receiving the news from Venezuela.

The sale of Hovensa to ArcLight Capital Partners’ Limetree Bay Holdings was approved last month by a bankruptcy court judge. The V.I Senate on Thursday debated an agreement for Limetree Bay to run an oil storage business at the refinery. But lawmakers voted to hold off on approving the plan until a public hearing could be held on St. Croix.

While supportive of much in the concession agreement for ArcLight’s purchase of Hovensa, senators said they wanted public hearings on St. Croix and objected to being "threatened" with a short deadline to pass the deal during a 12-hour Committee of the Whole hearing on the sale agreement Wednesday.

A public hearing on St. Croix is scheduled for Dec. 21.

In Friday’s news release, Mapp commended the Legislature for exercising its due diligence by providing an opportunity to the residents of St. Croix to offer testimony on the operating agreement, but emphasized the need for speed.

“I must state that the prompt action by the Legislature remains imperative to ensure that this transaction proceeds to completion by December 31st,” he said.

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