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August 21, 2000
Tropical Storm Debby May Hit Big Refinery
Filed at 12:55 p.m. ET
By Reuters NEW YORK (Reuters) - Tropical storm Debby, packing winds of 70 miles per hour, has a 43 percent chance of striking the Caribbean island of St. Croix, home to the Western Hemisphere's largest oil refinery, the U.S. National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said on Monday.
Concerns that the storm, expected to reach hurricane strength within the day, would strike the island's 545,000 barrel per day Hovensa refinery prompted company officials to partially shut down the plant and helped boost crude oil prices on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) more than a dollar to $33.00 a barrel.
The Hovensa refinery on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands group is jointly owned and operated by Amerada Hess and Venezuela's PDVSA, and is a major producer of refined products to the continental United States.
At 11 a.m. EDT, Debby was centered about 280 miles east of the Leeward Islands near latitude 15.7 north and longitude 57.3 west, and had maximum sustained winds of 70 miles per hour, just under hurricane strength, the NHC said.
It was moving west-northwest at about 22 mph, and had a 43 percent chance of passing within 65 nautical miles of St. Croix within the next three days, a 39 percent chance of hitting St. Thomas, and a 35 percent chance of hitting San Juan, the NHC said.
An earlier NHC forecast Monday morning pegged the chances the storm would hit St. Croix at 27 percent.
Tropical storms form and are given names when maximum sustained winds break 39 mph and become hurricanes when top winds break 74 mph.
-- Martin Thompson (email@example.com), August 21, 2000