CITGO’s Donation of Petty’s Island Highlights Commitment to Environmental Stewardship,
Friendship Between Peoples of Venezuela and the United States
HOUSTON, April 21, 2009 --- As recently announced by the president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, at the 5th Summit of the Americas, CITGO Petroleum Corporation, an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Petróleos de Venezuela, S. A. (PDVSA), has officially transferred control of Petty’s Island to the state of New Jersey for the creation of an ecological, cultural and historical preserve. This highlights the commitment of the Venezuelan people to environmental protection and stronger bonds of friendship between the peoples of Venezuela and the United States.
The project to transform the island into a natural preserve is being carried out in cooperation with the government of the State of New Jersey, the government of the Township of Pennsauken and several environmental and social groups committed to sustainable community development in the area.
“This donation highlights the commitment of the people of Venezuela, under the leadership of President Hugo Chávez, to environmental conservation and the well-being of the peoples of the world. With no doubt, this is a significant contribution to efforts to achieve a better world. Moreover, we are pleased to be able to conclude this effort within the framework of Earth Day celebrations,” said CITGO Chairman, President and CEO Alejandro Granado.
The 529-acre island is located in the Delaware River, close to Philadelphia. It was home to the Lenni-Lenape Native American tribe. A Quaker woman, Elizabeth Kinsey, who escaped religious persecution in England, bought it from the Native American chiefs in 1678.
Subsequently, the island had several owners and was even used for the infamous slave trade, for illegal lotteries and for duels. Cities Service, which became CITGO in 1983, acquired Crew Levick Company and its Petty’s Island refinery in 1916.
PDVSA acquired a 50 percent stake in CITGO in 1986. At that time, the company’s assets included Petty’s Island. In 1990, PDVSA bought the remaining 50 percent stake in CITGO. Use of the island for refining and hydrocarbons storage operations concluded in 2001 and since then, CITGO has carried out environmental projects in the area.
During the past decade, real estate developers had exercised pressure on local authorities to designate the island for the development of hotels, casinos, golf courses and luxury homes. At the same time, CITGO, with the support of PDVSA and in alignment with the social development principles endorsed by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, has been working in cooperation with the local authorities and environmental and community groups so that the island could be used instead for an ecological preserve, in order to protect its rich flora and fauna and its historical and cultural value.
Within this context, the island’s fate has been one of the most important environmental topic in New Jersey for the past three years. In fact, the governor of New Jersey offered to transform the island into an ecological preserve during the last election.
The decision to preserve the island as a natural oasis of wild life and an education center for environmental and cultural topics has been embraced with enthusiasm by the surrounding communities and environmental organizations. Thanks to the efforts of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and PDVSA through CITGO the project for the preservation of Petty’s Island has successfully concluded as victory for Mother Nature and a society aware of the importance of its present and future well-being.