Oil and Gas

UPDATE 1-Atlantic Basin Refining to buy, restart Hovensa St. Croix Refinery

(Adds information on company executives)

NEW YORK, Nov 10 (Reuters) - A little-known entity, Atlantic Basin Refining, has agreed to buy the shuttered Hovensa LLC oil refinery in St. Croix and restart it with a 300,000 barrels-a-day capacity to handle crude from the U.S. shale boom, according to a statement on Monday.

The project’s managing partners are Robert B. Moore Jr., Jack Thomas, William D. Forster, and Steven D. Schmitz, executives with trading and refining experience, according to biographies provided by the company to Reuters.

The agreement between ABR and plant owners Hess Corp and Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) is subject to a vote by the Legislature of the U.S. Virgin Islands, scheduled for Nov. 12.

The details of the agreement and information on the project’s financial backers remain well-guarded.

The company’s managing partners have decades of experience in the energy business, according to information provided by the company. Moore was previously a trader and manager at companies including Sun Oil Trading Co, Marubeni Inc, Castle Oil Corp, and Reliant Energy. Thomas is a senior partner in the St. Croix Renaissance group, which redeveloped the former Alcoa facility adjacent to the Hovensa refinery, with experience in environmental mitigation. Forster is an investment banker with 16 years at Lehman Brothers and 23 years working independently. Schmitz managed U.S. business development activities for Glencore and was a member of the refinery acquisition teams for PBF, Tosco and Hill.

Their plan focuses on upgrading the refinery, once the largest plant in the Western Hemisphere, which processed heavy Venezuelan crude before its January 2012 closure, to refine light sweet crude of the kind produced in shale formations, the statement said.

“The U.S. shale revolution has created an abundant supply of U.S. light sweet crude, and there is currently a limited ability to process this type of feedstock at U.S. refineries,” said Mark W. Eckard, Atlantic Basin’s managing director for legal and governmental affairs.

The shale boom has enabled other East Coast refineries that were shuttered for underperformance to restart.

The reconfiguration and restart will take approximately 24 months, according to the company’s website. ABR plans to restart the refinery with partners including Samsung Engineering, Wyatt Field Service Co., and an affiliate of SunExcel.

The company’s website does not address how much the restart will cost or where the financial backing will come from. The company declined to immediately comment on the financing. (Reporting by Jessica Resnick-Ault; Editing by Alden Bentley and James Dalgleish)