FSM: Coconut processing facility construction in Chuuk making ‘great progress’

TONOAS, Chuuk (FSM Information Services) — On July 13, 2019 David W. Panuelo, president of the Federated States of Micronesia, visited the Integrated Coconut Processing Facility on Tonoas to see how development of the facility was proceeding.

Former President Peter M. Christian had visited the site immediately after the conclusion of the 2019 Pacific Partnership in April 2019, and noticed at the time that there were few clear signs of construction.

By contrast, President Panuelo’s visit was witness to clear evidence of substantial work in the past few months, including the setup of containers, generators, trucks, and whiteboards in offices filled with status updates. Of these recent updates include the application of a remediator to the sludge retention pit and the active implementation of the site’s environmental and safety plans.

“I am very impressed visiting this island, you’re making great progress,” President Panuelo told staff from FSM Petroleum Corporation, known as Vital throughout the rest of Micronesia, and members of Chuuk State and Tonoas municipal governments. “I understand from the surveys PetroCorps has done throughout all of our islands that the nation has the potential to produce about one million gallons of coconut oil for export annually.”

One staff member working at the site, who asked to be anonymous but was keen to have his or her professional opinion otherwise quoted, said, “If the weather is good, we can have everything complete by the end of year.”

The president advised that, while overall progress for the facility has been slower than originally anticipated, that the pace at which it’s picked up in recent months is a positive development. “When I return to Pohnpei I will work with FSM PetroCorps and the leadership of Chuuk State and the national government to make sure this development is not slowed down,” President Panuelo said. “This is a really good sign of development.”

The president also expressed his enthusiasm to see the richness of the soil in Tonoas. “This is a place with a lot of agriculture, where people grow [coconut and more] for their own livelihood…[offering farmers the opportunity to sell their coconuts when it’s convenient for them] is exactly what we need to develop this region.”

President Panuelo also highlighted that, in his view, it may be useful for Chuuk State leadership to consider prioritizing the regions of Faichuk and Tonoas for economic development initiatives over the course of the next several years. “The Office of the President is open to you,” President Panuelo said. “I want to make a difference. I normally don’t promise anything, because I believe to deliver is better than to promise.”

The Integrated Coconut Processing Facility is one of many bold initiatives being spearheaded by the FSM Petroleum Corporation/Vital. Interested in learning more about this project? Visit the website at https://www.vitalenergy.fm.

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