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Hovensa Repairs Breakdown Slowing Gas Production

April 3, 2006 – Crews completed repairs to a malfunctioning unit at the Hovensa oil refinery on St. Croix that slowed gasoline production for three weeks, a company official said Monday.
The mechanical failure occurred March 11 in the refinery's fluid catalytic cracking unit, which converts semi-refined crude into gasoline.
The unit, which had been shut down since the failure, resumed gasoline production Sunday, according to Alex Moorhead, Hovensa executive vice president.
Repairs were initially expected to be completed by March 25.
The catalytic cracking unit, one of the largest in the world, is capable of producing 175,000 barrels of gasoline a day. Officials from Hovensa, the Western Hemisphere's second-largest oil refinery, had not specified how much production was affected by the damage to the unit.
Moorhead did not immediately return phone messages.
Operators of the refinery on St. Croix's southern coast have declined to provide details about operations in the past to avoid fueling market speculation. Hovensa, a joint venture of New York-based Amerada Hess Corporation and Venezuela's state oil company, processes about 500,000 barrels of crude oil per day.
Hovensa is the territory's largest private employer.

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