I had a good look at her the other day. She is showing her age. She’s almost fifty now, seems like yesterday that she was a just spring chicken. Naturally after all the years of use and perhaps some abuse from all those men climbing all over her, it is not surprising that she’s a little tired and worn. But there is hope for her!
Dear reader I’m, as you guessed, speaking about the refinery. She changed her median name from Hess to Hovensa as so many do after they are grown. We know her as our Refinery. Not very glamorous but it supplied us with many good jobs and good people who loved St. Croix and wish to come back. Now we know that the mass of steel and piping out there is most likely going to be around for the rest of our lives. It will either be a giant hunk of rusting steel and a pool of money for lawyers to fish in for decades in court or a work place for hundreds of men and women making something of value with good wages and benefits.
Perhaps if your grandchildren are going to be junk dealers you can see the value of letting it rust empty for the next few decades, however I cannot. The notion that it will again become a pristine natural cove is a pipe dream. The rusting pipes will remain where they are, lawsuits will make sure of it. Some are saying let the government take it, well as soon as they fix the roads perhaps they will have time and talent to run a multibillion dollar completive refinery. They could also take over the failing Seaplane business and do the maintenance and flying of it. However Public works is much too busy right now doing nothing to handle any more work. Let St. Croix be known as the rusting hulk, I say no.
These are the jokes so what is the reality. In reality, it can be a working facility once again. Will it be just as it was, of course not, nor will you or I. I personally have not one cent invested in this deal. I’m not a shareholder or oil expert or know any of the players. I do however have a love for St. Croix. And that’s it. I do know some of the decision makers, Senators, quite well. I know that amongst them some too have a primary love for this place. Some others of them are personally well off with trust funds and pensions that allow them to take “holier than thou” positions. Lucky that they, unlike the rest of us, will be very comfortable if the refinery closes or not. I was taught that there is a certain hypocrisy in this. It was said in World War Two that the French were willing to fight to the last Englishman. “How brave”. Clear heads know that we are dealt a hand that is not perfect but our girl is aging and needs attention and money from someone right now! She has a fine dock, a huge number of restored oil storage tanks and the giant plumbing of refinery.
Right now we are placing propane tanks for the power plant to use for the next few years. These WAPA tanks use a petroleum product we call propane. It is dirty, a little cleaner then straight oil but not as clean and efficient as natural gas. In a little over a year the first export facility will open in the gulf of Mexico and it has made a deal to come to Hovensa to off load the gas into a 20 billion dollar pipe line to be constructed from Hovensa to Renaissance next door for storage there and then shipment in smaller ships down Island for new Island natural gas power plants. If Hovensa is shuttered they are gone too.
Each of these reasons and many more lead me to believe that the majority of our Senators will be honest and vote for the contract. If they do not and it closes and the supply of gasoline and other necessary fuels are shut off at the rack I recommend that each of us save the last gallon of gas in our fuel tanks so that we can make it to the airport and get over to St. Thomas where they will have everything.
Bob White, St. Croix
Hovensa Can be Reincarnated