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Harbor Fuel Decries $15 Million Revenue Loss From Royal Caribbean

Cruise Ship Company Has Decided To Use Leased Fuel-Tanker Vessels For Its Ships


November 27, 2003
Copyright © 2003 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

Puerto Rico’s Harbor Fuel Services stands to lose up to $15 million annually if Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines proceeds with plans to buy diesel fuel in St. Croix for its vessels in Puerto Rico, said Harbor Fuel Services President Fernando Rivera.

"On Saturday, a tanker vessel leased by Royal Caribbean arrived in Puerto Rico to begin fueling its cruise ships, specifically the Constellation, Radiance of the Seas, and Serenade of the Seas," said Rivera. "They weren’t able to fuel the vessels because they lacked permits from the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Customs, but these have since been granted. Now there are plans for the tanker to provide fuel to one of the ships on Tuesday."

According to Rivera, Royal Caribbean had discussed the possibility of buying fuel from other sources. But Rivera said he was surprised to learn that the tanker fuel was on its way to the island and he hadn’t been given an opportunity to negotiate.

Harbor Fuel Services has been providing diesel to Royal Caribbean vessels since 1989. The company has more than 30 barges and tugboats and provides service to most of the commercial vessels visiting the island. Two years ago, the company bought a new barge and is now waiting for a new tugboat.

"If anyone has defended the rights of cruise ships in Puerto Rico, it has been me," said Rivera. "I feel particularly insulted that this is happening now, when Royal Caribbean has the best facilities on the island and enjoys government incentives in exchange for increasing local purchases. Royal Caribbean is a cruise ship company, and that it is trying to muscle in on the fuel business isn’t fair."

In 1998, Royal Caribbean proposed the development in Old San Juan of a $250 million, 500-square-foot terminal and retail entertainment space with up to 2,000 parking spaces, which would have committed the cruise ship company to Harbor Fuel Services and increased its purchases from local vendors. The area’s shop owners defeated the project, but last year the company inaugurated a new terminal at Isla Grande’s Pan-American Pier.

At press time Monday, Royal Caribbean couldn’t be reached for comment on this story.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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