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The Government House Blog
Governor Hosts Briefing for Senators and Delegate Christensen on HOVENSA Negotiations 
Posted by Jean P. Greaux, Jr. on February 19, 2013 at 11:10 PM AST

Earlier this evening, Governor de Jongh hosted a meeting of members of the 30th Legislature, Lt. Governor Gregory Francis and Virgin Islands Delegate to Congress Donna Christian Christensen to update them on the status of negotiations with the owners of HOVENSA. The meeting is the latest in a series of discussions between the territory’s elected leaders as regards the future long-term use of the refinery site on the south shore of St. Croix. 

Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. speaks during tonight's meeting with elected officials at Government House on the status of negotiations with the owners of HOVENSA on February 19, 2013. To the governor's right is Lt. Governor Gregory Francis and Washington, D.C. Legal Counsel, attorney Peter Hiebert. To the governor's left is David Herr, Managing Director, Duff & Phelps, the government's consultant on HOVENSA and Government House Deputy Chief of Staff Nathan Simmonds.

The governor reported that the government and the owners of HOVENSA have been making progress in negotiations, but additional time is needed to complete them. “I explained that the owners of HOVENSA have come to the point where they have now agreed to a sales process. This is something we have pushed for from the beginning. As such, I have agreed to a further extension of the current interim agreement as requested by the refinery’s owners. The current interim agreement is set to expire at the end of this month. An extension is required in order to finalize the details of the sales process, its timing and what possible adjustments to HOVENSA’s current obligations seem reasonable while this process is going forward,” de Jongh said following tonight’s meeting.

He cautioned that the form, or extent, of the details of any sales process are yet to be finalized and urged everyone to remain realistic that the interim operation of an oil storage terminal facility is not a business on the scale of a refinery “which is what we hope will again be possible.” 

Senators Terence Nelson, Craig Barshinger, Shawn Michael-Malone, Donald Cole, Clarence Payne and Clifford Graham listen to the governor's briefing on the status of negotiations with the owners of HOVENSA on February 19, 2013

"In order to protect the interests of the people of this territory it is critical that we maintain a unified front on this issue - I would like to thank every member of the 30th Legislature for participating and providing meaningful input," Senate President Shawn Michael Malone said. "Additionally, I have requested that the governor ensure we have adequate time to fully analyze any agreement that we are asked to ratify." 
Malone said he will support an extension of the concession agreement in order to facilitate the negotiation process.

Since August 2012, the governor has called on the owners of HOVENSA to either reopen the refinery or join with the government in establishing a sales process that will lead to a new owner resuming refinery operations thus providing much needed jobs on St. Croix.

The governor also said he has received assurances that there will be no interruption of the fuel supply on St. Croix and that both sides will work to complete, without delay, negotiations towards an agreement for review and consideration by the 30th Legislature. 

The meeting was held at Government House, St. Thomas. Lawmakers in attendance included: Senate President Shawn-Michael Malone, Legislative Secretary Janette Millin Young and Senators Donald Cole, Clifford Graham, Nereida Rivera O’Reilly, Judy Fricks Buckley, Terrence Nelson, Craig Barshinger, Clarence Payne, Myron Jackson, Diane Capehart, Tregenza Roach and Kenneth Gittens. Delegate Christensen, Senate Vice-President Sammuel Sanes and Senator Alicia “Chucky” Hansen participated via teleconference. 

Also in attendance were David Herr, Managing Director of Duff & Phelps, consultants to the government on HOVENSA; Legal Counsel to the Governor in Washington, DC, attorney Peter Heibert of Winston & Strawn; Attorney General Vincent Frazer; Department of Planning and Natural Resources Commissioner Alicia Barnes and members of Government House senior staff.