Two years after a historic explosion rocked the former Caribbean Petroleum Corp. fuel depot in Bayamón, its new owner Puma Energy Caribe is on the verge of completing a $32 million investment to transform the site into a state-of-the-art facility, company officials said Monday.
By 2014, that investment figure should jump to $230 million, they said, during a tour of the facility formerly known as Capeco with members of the Gov. Luis Fortuño administration and members of the media.
The company, which picked up the assets of the bankrupt Capeco for $82 million in May 2011, less than two years after the blast on Oct. 23, 2009 that sent plumes of fire into the night sky and charred everything within a significant radius. The explosion also gave way to one of the island’s most significant environmental emergencies in recent history.
Since taking over, Puma has been working in close partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency, the Environmental Quality Board to address the ongoing environmental issues.
“Two years on from one of Puerto Rico’s most devastating environmental incidents, and only six months since they acquired the property, it gives me enormous hope to see the positive strides that Puma Energy Caribe is taking to create jobs and rehabilitate the facility,” said Fortuño. “We wish them every luck in transforming the site into an environmentally sound and industry leading hub for Puerto Rico.”
Since July, Puma Energy has increased its payroll from 45 to 300 employees, Víctor Domínguez, general manager of the operation said.
“Puma is committed to building commercial opportunities in Puerto Rico,” he said, mentioning plans to transform the site into a state-of-the-art facility to bolster Puerto Rico’s strategic petroleum reserves. Before the explosion, the Capeco terminal was among the largest fuel processing, storage and distribution facilities in Puerto Rico, supplying some 15 percent of the island’s petroleum products consumption
“Our far-reaching environmental remediation program, in partnership with federal and local authorities, is just the start for us,” Dominguez said. “Through state-of-the-art technology and a core belief of wanting to do the right thing we intend to set new standards in environmental stewardship.”