New Refinery Owner Wants Swift Restart

A speedy restart of St. Croix’s oil refinery would help a tight oil supply in North America and Caribbean, said representatives Tuesday of Port Hamilton Refining and Transportation, which purchased the refinery in January.

Charles Chambers, a main principal at Port Hamilton Refining and Transportation, new owner of St. Croix’s oil refinery. (Photo: Port Hamilton Refining and Transportation)

Port Hamilton hopes to have the refinery, formerly known as Hovensa and Limetree under previous owners, pumping out 180,000 barrels a day in Spring 2023, said Charles Chambers, one of the ownership’s chief partners.

“The reality is that the demand for refined petroleum products such as gasoline and diesel is exceeding the industry’s current capability to supply this demand. This shortness of supply in the market has contributed to price increases that are straining the finances of many hard-working people. Our objective is to restart the refinery on St. Croix in a safe and environmentally sound manner which we hope will help to alleviate this tight supply situation,” Chambers said in a written statement. “It is anticipated that phase one hiring will commence in the fall of this year.”

The statement comes as parties from Jamaica — where the company is headquartered — the mainland, and the U.S. Virgin Islands still struggle to understand the circumstances of the sale to Limetree. A party that supposedly co-bid on the refinery in Limetree’s bankruptcy sale said last month that they were, in fact, not co-owners, and Port Hamilton bought the refinery outright.

Chambers said conversations continue with local and federal regulators and other critical constituents to ensure the safe, environmentally-friendly, and speedy restart of the refinery.

For nearly 50 years, the refinery produced 650,000 barrels per day and was a critical asset in the U.S. and Caribbean fuel supply chain. Those years were a boon for the economy of the U.S. Virgin Islands, which can be realized in the future with the restarting of the refinery, Chamber said.