West Indies Petroleum says it has no stake in US Virgin Islands Refinery

by Jul 8, 2022United States Virgin Islands0 comments

15 minutes from the city of St. Croix lies the Limetree Bay Refinery. Built in 1998, the refinery used to be quite a staple of industry in the United States Virgin Islands. But in recent years, the refinery is on shaky ground following a controversial environmental disaster. In May of 2021, the Environmental Protection Agency ordered its shutdown following a series of dangerous accidents. Many times, oil droplets were showered on nearby homes, and neighbors were shrouded in obnoxious odors of oil. Some residents were even sent to the emergency room. Litigation and class-action suits followed. Despite this, the refinery seemed like it was going to reopen. It was announced this January that West Indies Petroleum had won the auction for the refinery and intended to get it operational soon.

And that’s where things stand for now. Or rather, they did until a left-field announcement on June 22. In an emailed statement, West Indies Petroleum announced that not only did they not purchase the refinery in January, they in fact have no stake in it whatsoever. This raises far more questions than answers. 

It seemed that the company had taken control in late January after the company made the final $11.4 million payment of its $62 million winning bid. Furthermore, the confusion is due to Judge David Jones’s order. As the chief bankruptcy judge for the southern district in Houston, Texas, in December of 2021, he ordered the auction for the Limetree Bay Refinery to be reopened. He also ordered West Indies Petroleum to be allowed to participate. The order took the refinery away from St. Croix energy, which had won the previous auction in November. 

In an emailed statement from the company’s Gmail account, they had this to say. “West Indies Petroleum Limited (WIPL) wishes to clarify that contrary to media reports it is not a stakeholder in the Limetree Bay Refinery in St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands and was not the entity which purchased the refinery.” This contradicts the company’s earlier statements where they publicly celebrated the auction win and pledged to expand operations. West Indies Petroleum’s announcement also states that court proceedings prevented the company from clarifying its ownership status until now. “Although an initial participant in the early bidding process, due to legal factors WIPL elected not to further pursue the initiative. Those factors also constrained WIPL from commenting sooner about the inaccurate reports in the media.” 

As of writing, the Bryan administration has affirmed that the refinery was sold to West Indies Petroleum. But this still leaves questions as to why the company confirmed others. The only other  public official who issued a statement was Senator Kurt Vialet, who said that the announcement left him “baffled and confused.”

A refinery in a whirlwind following a series of accidents, and a rocky sale. The last update is complete public confusion about its ownership.