TransAmerican just weeks away from full processing of crude oil

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 18, 1998

By Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / May 18, 1998

LAPLACE – TransAmerican Refining Co., Norco, took a huge leap forwardtoward bringing itself into full production Wednesday, with approval by the South Louisiana Port Commission of a $65 million bond sale to improve its dock facilities.

R. Glenn McGinnis, president and chief executive officer of TransAmerican,said the company’s first full processing of South American sour crude oil will begin in less than three weeks.

Because of the dock facility improvements loan, the docks themselves will be owned by the Port of South Louisiana and leased to TransAmerican, the same arrangement at most other dock facilities in the port’s jurisdiction.

The TransAmerican refinery, which started life as Good Hope Refinery in the early 1970s, closed in 1982 and has been undergoing rehabilitation and overhaul since March 1995, to revamp the plant for processing an oil type usually not handled by other domestic refineries.

The $700 million project employed at its peak 5,000 construction employees. By the end of 1998, it should be at 615 permanent employeesand 1,000 contract employees.

TransAmerican, McGinnis continued, will start off processing 125,000 barrels per day. Maximum capacity is 200,000 barrels per day.In other activity, the Port Commission voted to sue Bay Star Enterprises and reactivate a second lawsuit against Marvin Engineering first filed more than a year ago but since left in abeyance, according to port attorney Joe Accardo.

Port revenue bonds totaling $200,000 had been pledged for remediation of the site at Godchaux-Henderson Sugar Refinery, where fuel tanks have been removed.

Marvin Engineering, contracted in 1992, had started work on checking for possible leakage and pollution of the surrounding area, but work stopped and has not yet re-started. The project was originally expected to takethree years to complete.

Accardo said the suit aims to recover the bonds pledged and use that money to hire a firm which will complete the work. The Commission votedalso to hire an environmental engineer to re-assess the scope of the project.

In the Bay Star matter, company president Marvin Harvey allegedly refused to cooperate with a first-ever audit of the financial records as to how Bay Star has managed the Globalplex facility in Reserve.

Harvey has claimed he has cooperated where asked but the auditing firm, on the other hand, insisted otherwise, saying he did not provide certain information where asked.

In August 1997, the commission voted to hire Ellis-Apple and Co. of BatonRouge to perform the audit. However, soon the company reported animpasse in dealing with Harvey.

In March 1998, Harvey was given notice to vacate by the end of that month, and day-to-day management has since been handled by Deputy Port Director Don Hays.

A four-man committee was named to select an attorney to sue Bay Star, including Cart Davis, Brandt Dufrene, Greg Lier and Brent Tregre.

Also at the port commission meeting, Harbor Services Capt. KerryCunningham presented an idea to the commission which met with immediate welcome. Personnel from the Harbor Services will select andwork on their off-time to restore and repair houses for needy senior citizens.

Cunningham said the group would need approximately $650 for tools and equipment, and he explained each house could need repairs, including carpentry, plumbing, air conditioning and yard work. Some employees arecertified in the relevant fields, and liability waivers will be signed prior to work performed, he said.

The employee group will select one house in each parish, taking them on one at a time and cooperating with each parish’s Council On Aging to select the person to receive the help.

“We were born and raised in these three parishes, and many of us have our parents and grandparents here,” Cunningham noted. “We see a lot of seniorcitizens without the funds to do this themselves, and we want to help.”Cunningham asked for and received a pledge of financial assistance from the commission for the public relations project.

“I’ll be a volunteer working right with you on the west bank,” Commissioner Louis Joseph promised.

The Port Commission also voted to void a contract with Compass North America, Coral Gables, Fla. for a new Port Directory publication due tohealth problems of the contractor, George Mihaiu. In a related matter, theport plans a 16-page marketing brochure and selected Positive Results Inc. of Baton Rouge to prepare it at a cost of $14,242. They expect to havethe finished brochure in 10 weeks.

Also, the Port Commission voted to hire New Orleans law firm Adams & Reese as a Washington D.C. lobbyist with a $25,000, six-month contract.Already, the firm pledged to seek $100,000 in federal grant money for the port to establish a Harbor Police force.

Port Executive Director Gary LaGrange said later he expected that new security will help stave off the armed robberies of foreign seamen in the Reserve area.

Photo: R. GLENN MCGENNIS TransAmerican CEO

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