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Caribbean Trade & Economy

Why buid a refinery in the Caribbean?

Author: Arjun Dave
Last Update: 7:07 AM ET July 23 2011

The Bahamas has become the largest oil and refined crude products center in the Caribbean. The island has also attracted a proposal from the U.S. based AES to set up a terminal for Liquid Natural Gas and an undersea pipeline to deliver natural gas to Florida.

The following is a list of major oil storage center in Caribbean as prepared by the U.S. Energy Administration.

Location Analysis

Caribbean nations have been dependent on crude oil for most of their electricity plants and relied on the subsidized oil from Mexico and Venezuela. The days of cheap oil and refined products may be ending in the near future as Venezuela continues to suffer from high inflation and a declining refining capacity.

Mexico also has been suffering from the rising demand for refined products and no new addition of refinery in the last five decades. Mexico has become the largest importers of the refined crude products in the Americas. Mexico currently imports 450,000 barrels of refined crude from the U.S.

The recent excess crude oil refining capacity induced by the recession in the U.S. has been a great boon for Mexico but the demand for petrol is expected to rise in the U.S. despite the recent jump in retail prices.

In 2011 in the first half, the government controlled Pemex in Mexico produced 375,000 barrels a day of petrol or gasoline and sold 795,000 barrels. The difference was made with the imports from the U.S. Pemex is expected to increase production capacity by 50,000 by the end of the year and is looking to build a new refinery in central state of Hidalgo with installed capacity of 300,000 barrel a day.

Aruba refinery operated by Chevron was closed after it had several environmental lapses and the decline in energy demand in the U.S. The available excess refining capacity in the U.S. is transitory and will be dedicated to the local demand as the oil price reach a new equilibrium.

There are several possibilities of setting up a refinery in the Caribbean region that focus on the local demand and also serve the cargo container ship needs. Mexico and Venezuela are two large customers that can also be served from this refinery.

Though primary providers of crude in the region are Mexico and Venezuela both lack knowhow and resources to build a refinery. The installed refinery has to process heavy and sour crude that is available from both of these nations.

Cuba, Haiti and Jamaica offer two good choices of setting up a refinery.

Refinery operating is a complex and at times risky operation. It is always better to locate these operations that are on the coast, away from most population centers and are operated in nations that do not tie one down with a lot of regulations.

Aruba (Valero) 275,000 bpd CLOSED
Cuba Nico Lopez Refinery (Cupet) 122,000 bpd
Hermanos Diaz Refinery 102,500 bpd
Cienfuegos Refinery 76,000 bpd
Netherlands Antilles Refineria Isla (PDVSA) 320,000 bpd
Dominican Republic Haina Refinery (REFIDOMSA) 33,000 bpd (start-up 1973)
Trinidad and Tobago Pointe--Pierre Refinery (Petrotrin) 165,000 bpd
US Virgin Islands St Croix Refinery (PDVSA/Amerada Hess) 494,000 bpd
Jamaica 30,000 bps (PetroJam)

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