US Virgin Islands Plans Response to HOVENSA Refinery Closure

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Above: the HOVENSA refinery

By the Caribbean Journal staff

The US Virgin Islands has a plan to assist the thousands of people who will lose their jobs when the HOVENSA oil refinery, the largest in the Caribbean, closes.

It was announced that the plant would close on Jan. 18.

“Our worst nightmare is now a reality, and the serious implications for the Virgin Islands, especially the island of St Croix, is cause for grave concern,” said Labour Department Commissioner Albert Bryan, Jr this week. “This event will affect every man, woman and child in the territory as its implications are far-reaching.”

The closure of the refinery, which is the largest employer in the territory, will mean the termination of employment for 1,018 employees, and up to 1,200 who work for HOVENSA’s contractors.

It could mean an additional 10 percent of the territory’s workforce is put out of work, and raising St Croix’s unemployment rate to 18.7 percent.

Bryan said the USVI was resilient, and would work together to forge ahead.

“When serious crisis strikes, we always pull together for the greater good of our people,” he said.