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Refinery Closing Threatens Virgin Islands’ Debt, Employment

The U.S. Virgin Islands will confront the threat of a debt downgrade when one of the region’s largest oil refineries shuts down this month, doubling joblessness on St. Croix, the archipelago’s poorest island.

About 2,000 workers will lose their jobs when the 350,000-barrel-a-day Hovensa LLC refinery, a partnership of Hess Corp. and Petroleos de Venezuela SA, closes in mid-February to stem $1.3 billion in losses over the last three years. The decision leaves the Virgin Islands without its biggest private employer and facing a widening budget deficit and higher energy costs as some of its best-paid jobs disappear.