Photo: Courtesy of ktsimage
The U.S. Virgin Islands Saint Croix's oil refinery Limetree Bay has a new potential owner. U.S. bankruptcy judge, Judge David Jones, on December 21, 2021, approved the $62 million sale of Limetree Bay refinery to Jamaican oil storage company West Indies Petroleum (WIPL), along with Port Hamilton Refining and Transportation. A major factor in the judge's decision was the overwhelming support from many parties involved in the transaction, including the debtor itself, Limetree Bay Refinery (viconsortium.com). "The refinery's attorney, Elizabeth Green, testified in support of the sale, stating that Limetree Bay had done its due diligence and that WIPL had already put on the line $10 million since the auction's outcome" (viconsortium.com).
St. Croix Energy LLLP is the backup-bidder at $57 million. If West Indies Petroleum cannot complete the sale transaction in January 2022, the opportunity to purchase the refinery will go to St. Croix Energy. Both West Indies Petroleum and St. Croix Energy want to restart the refinery, which is currently being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice after releases of hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide during a restart in early 2021 sickened St. Croix residents (reuters.com).
The refinery has faced numerous problems over the years. After sitting idle for nearly a decade, the 210,000 barrel-per-day refinery reopened in February 2021 under private equity ownership, only to be shut down in May 2021 after the facility sprayed nearby neighborhoods with a petroleum mist and residents complained of breathing problems (reuters.com). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ordered the plant to shut down for at least 60 days after this incident, which also contaminated the community's water supply (reuters.com). The EPA also required that the plant install and operate 18 sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide monitors on St. Croix before restarting operations (reuters.com). Following these orders, the EIG-backed Limetree could not secure the necessary funding to reopen the plant. In June 2021, it announced that it would shut its St. Croix refinery indefinitely due to financial problems (reuters.com).