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Chevron Seals the Deal on $53 Billion Acquisition of Hess Corporation



Chevron Corporation has disclosed its intent to acquire Hess Corporation through an all-stock transaction, valuing the deal at an impressive $53 billion. This merger is the latest in a series of consolidations sweeping across the American oil sector.

Earlier this week, both corporations issued a joint statement elaborating on the acquisition’s specifics. Under the agreement, Hess stockholders are slated to obtain 1.025 Chevron shares for each Hess share they hold, which translates to a share price of $171 for Hess. The aggregate enterprise value of Hess, factoring in its debt, is projected to reach $60 billion post-acquisition.

This merger follows closely on the heels of another significant consolidation in the industry. Exxon Mobil Corporation recently finalized its $58 billion takeover of shale-oil producer Pioneer Natural Resources Co. These consolidations underscore the sustained relevance of the oil and gas sector in the global energy milieu.

Chevron’s Chairman and CEO, Mike Wirth, expressed his views on the merger, noting, “This strategic move positions Chevron to bolster our long-term performance and further enrich our advantaged portfolio by incorporating world-class assets.”

Hess Corporation shares a historic connection with the U.S. Virgin Islands. In 1966, operating as Hess Oil Virgin Islands Corporation, it established the oil refinery on St. Croix following the acquisition of land from Annie de Chabert. By October of that year, the refinery was up and running, with its capacity dramatically escalating to a peak of 650,000 barrels per day in 1974. In 1998, Hovensa LLC, a collaboration between Hess Corporation and PDVSA, assumed control over the refinery’s operations.

Over time, Hovensa navigated through several challenges, including a $5.3 million penalty in 2011 due to Clean Air Act violations. In 2012, the decision was made to cease refinery operations, though it operated as a storage terminal till 2015 before shutting down. Despite an unsuccessful acquisition bid by Atlantic Basin Refining, November 2015 saw Limetree Bay Terminals, backed by ArcLight Capital Partners and Freepoint Commodities, successfully purchasing the facility.

Investment Backdrop with ArcLight’s Engagement

ArcLight, an American private equity firm, channelizes the retirement savings of various stakeholders including Maine teachers, NFL players, and Mayo Clinic doctors into energy investments. In December 2015, under the Mapp administration, an agreement was inked with ArcLight to manage an oil storage terminal at the south shore facility. Jake F. Erhard of ArcLight Partners, envisioned the terminal as a new market hub, leveraging ArcLight’s extensive experience across the energy spectrum to maximize the site’s potential.

In 2018, the firm ramped up its investment to reinitiate oil refining, along with announcing the immediate recruitment of 1,200 personnel. Although the initial cost of restarting was estimated at $1.4 billion, it escalated to nearly $2.7 billion over time, as per Reuters.

Despite facing numerous delays exceeding a year, oil refining commenced on February 1, as announced by Limetree Bay. Jeffrey Rinker, Limetree’s CEO, expressed enthusiasm over the start of operations. However, several issues ensued, including environmental incidents leading to a 60-day refining halt ordered by the EPA in May following a major flare mishap.

As per a Reuters’ account, contractors engaged in the refinery’s restart are yet to be compensated fully for their services, according to liens filed with the U.S. Virgin Islands Recorder of Deeds.

The impact of these issues extends beyond the stakeholders, resonating with individuals like Linda Woods, a retired educator from Maine, who expressed her disdain over her retirement funds being channeled into fossil fuel ventures. She remains hopeful that the complications at Limetree Bay might prompt legislative measures to curb oil and gas investments by pension schemes in the future, terming it a potential “watershed moment.”

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VI Electron and Honeywell Forge New Path in Energy Storage for USVI Solar Initiatives



In a significant step forward for renewable energy in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Honeywell announced its collaboration with VI Electron on Tuesday. This partnership marks the beginning of an ambitious plan to implement the first of several advanced battery energy storage solutions (BESS) in up to six strategically placed solar parks across the territory.

The role of battery storage in these municipal solar projects cannot be overstated. It’s a game-changer, enabling the storage of excess energy produced during peak times. This not only guarantees a stable power supply but also enhances the overall efficiency of the power grid.

Honeywell’s inaugural BESS for VI Electron boasts an impressive 124 MW capacity. It features a comprehensive battery management system that promises advanced energy controls and an integrated safety system. This state-of-the-art system is a key to smarter energy management, allowing for precise forecasting and optimization of energy usage, thereby paving the way for a more cost-effective and efficient energy grid.

Governor Albert Bryan Jr. has expressed enthusiastic support for this initiative. He recognizes the alignment of Honeywell’s battery storage expertise with the territory’s vision for a greener future. Governor Bryan highlighted the significance of the VI Electron and Honeywell partnership as a catalyst in achieving the territory’s ambitious renewable energy target, aiming for at least 30 percent of energy consumption to be sourced from renewable methods.

Earlier in the year, the V.I. Water and Power Authority board greenlit power purchase agreements with VI Electron for solar energy provision and with Advance Power for the development of wind energy solutions. This move is a cornerstone in diversifying the territory’s energy sources.

The integration of renewable energy into the USVI’s energy portfolio is expected to bring about a substantial decrease in consumer energy costs. This is primarily attributed to a marked reduction in the Levelized Energy Adjustment Clause (LEAC). WAPA CEO Andrew Smith shared his optimistic outlook with board members in April, foreseeing a significant reduction in fuel costs for the territory.

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“Jump-Up!” Celebration Hindered by Christiansted’s Deteriorating Roads: Attendee Injured, Local Businesses Affected



The festive atmosphere of the “Jump-Up!” event in Christiansted was overshadowed by poor road conditions, impacting both vendors and attendees. Laurie Hirons, owner of Gecko Boutique, described to WTJX how vendors struggled with inadequate setup spaces, with some opting not to participate. “Setting up tents in what seemed like gutters was a challenge for many,” Hirons recounted.

Matt Ridgeway, chair of the Christiansted Retail & Restaurant Association, reported a distressing incident where an individual sustained arm injuries due to the hazardous roadways. Ridgeway expressed his concern, saying, “It’s troubling that our environment isn’t safer for everyone, locals and visitors alike.”

According to Ridgeway, the event saw a notable decrease in sales, attributing this to reduced pedestrian traffic. He observed a general reluctance among people to visit Christiansted under the current conditions.

Both Hirons and Ridgeway voiced their frustration over unfulfilled promises. Despite assurances from road contractor Marco St. Croix following a stakeholders’ meeting, the much-needed road repairs remain pending. Hirons expressed her disappointment to WTJX, stating, “Promises were made, yet we see no improvements.”

Ridgeway extended his concerns beyond the roads, highlighting broader issues affecting the Virgin Islands, such as environmental challenges and infrastructure needs. “Our focus shouldn’t be solely on tourist comfort but also on the wellbeing of St. Croix residents and all Virgin Islanders,” he remarked.

Emphasizing the urgency of addressing these issues, Ridgeway called for unity and accountability within the community. He stressed the importance of seizing current funding opportunities for recovery projects to build a better future for the territory. “We owe it to our children to make the most of this chance,” he asserted.

Ridgeway informed WTJX of an upcoming meeting with Waste Management Authority officials to discuss the long-standing issue of Christiansted’s road paving project, a source of frustration for residents and businesses for several years.

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S&P Global Foresees Potential Default for Ocean Point Terminals Amid Debt Concerns



S&P Global Ratings, a prominent credit rating agency, recently adjusted the debt rating of Limetree Bay Terminals LLC (now operating as Ocean Point Terminals in the USVI) to a lower level, signaling growing concerns over the company’s financial stability.

The downgrade, announced on November 17, shifted the company’s rating from CCC to CCC-, with a negative outlook. This change occurs as Ocean Point Terminals approaches the February 15, 2024, deadline to address its significant outstanding debt totaling approximately $476 million.

S&P Global Ratings expressed a stark assessment, stating that it anticipates Ocean Point Terminals will “likely default” or be compelled to negotiate a distressed exchange in the coming three months to manage its considerable debt. The agency did note, however, that this scenario could be avoided with a substantial increase in contracted business or an infusion of equity, though it deemed such developments unlikely.

Despite recent contract gains, S&P Global Ratings remains skeptical about the company’s ability to repay its loans through operational cash flows alone. The agency further noted that the current economic environment presents additional challenges to the company’s financial recovery.

The agency emphasized the high rates and unsustainable capital structure in the near term, pointing out the insufficiency of current and anticipated contracts to significantly alter the company’s financial course. As the February 15 maturity date for the debt nears, the likelihood of a distressed exchange — where a company negotiates with creditors to restructure its debt under more favorable terms — increases, influencing the negative outlook from S&P Global Ratings.

A distressed exchange could involve various restructuring strategies, including offering creditors equity in the company based on debt value or substituting existing debt with new, more favorable terms.

In the event of a distressed exchange or failure to meet interest or amortization payments, Ocean Point Terminals’ debt rating could face further downgrades. However, securing longer-term contracts that generate sufficient cash flow to cover debt service could lead to a revision of the company’s outlook to “stable,” as per S&P Global Ratings.

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