United States International Trade Commision Rulings And Harmonized Tariff Schedule
faqs.org  Rulings By Number  Rulings By Category  Tariff Numbers
faqs.org > Rulings and Tariffs Home > Rulings By Number > 2002 HQ Rulings > HQ 114758 - HQ 115629 > HQ 115482

Previous Ruling Next Ruling
HQ 115482

January 8, 2001

VES-3-24-RR:IT:EC 115482 GEV


Juan A. Anduiza, Esq.
James H. Hohenstein, Esq.
Haight Gardner Holland & Knight
195 Broadway
New York, New York 10007-3189

RE: Coastwise Trade; Petroleum Blending; 46 U.S.C. App. § 883

Dear Messrs. Anduiza and Hohenstein:

This is in response to your letters of August 31, 2001, October 5, 2001, and October 31, 2001, with enclosures, on behalf of your client, PDVSA Trading. S.A. (“PDVSA”), requesting a ruling concerning the application of the Jones Act to a proposed petroleum blending operation to be performed in the Bahamas. Our ruling on this matter is set forth below.


PDVSA is a Venezuelan corporation registered to do business in various states of the United States, including Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas. PDVSA is engaged in the business of purchase and sale of petroleum products. Concerning the blended products discussed herein, PDVSA would be the owner of the material.

Another involved party is PDVSA Petroleo, S.A., a Venezuelan company which is the sister corporation of PDVSA. Another subsidiary of PDVSA, Bahamas Oil Refining Company International Limited (“Borco”), owns a petroleum terminal facility located in the Bahamas.

At issue is the proposed blending of petroleum feedstocks at the Borco facility (including components originating in the United States), and the subsequent transportation of the blended products (Marine Residual Fuels) to the United States by foreign-flag vessels chartered on either a “spot” basis (such as a voyage charter) or term basis or furnished to PDVSA under the terms of a contract of affreightment.

It is contemplated that at the Borco facility a feedstock, originating in Venezuela or another foreign country, will be blended with feedstocks originating in the United States. As to the specific nature of the contemplated blending, your letter of August 31, 2001, enclosed the technical data for the U.S.-origin feedstock components (Enclosure 1), and the technical data for the foreign-origin feedstock component (Enclosure 2).

As noted from Enclosure 1, the U.S.-origin feedstocks [

]. Concerning the foreign-origin feedstock (Enclosure 2), this petroleum product will be [ ]. Copies of the two relevant ASTM Specifications for [ ] were also submitted with your letter of August 31, 2001, as Enclosures 3, 4, and 5, respectively.


Whether the blending operation described above is sufficient to create a “new and different product” within the meaning of 19 CFR § 4.80b(a) so that the proposed transportation of the blended product by foreign-flag vessels is not violative of 46 U.S.C. App. § 883.


Title 46, United States Code Appendix, § 883 (the merchandise coastwise law often called the "Jones Act") prohibits the transportation of merchandise between United States coastwise points, either directly or via a foreign port, or for any part of the transportation, in any vessel other than a vessel built in and documented under the laws of the United States and owned by persons who are citizens of the United States (i.e., a coastwise-qualified vessel).

In interpreting § 883, Customs has ruled that a point in United States territorial waters is a point in the United States embraced within the coastwise laws. The territorial waters of the United States consist of the territorial sea, defined as the belt, 3 nautical miles wide, seaward of the territorial sea baseline, and to points located in internal waters, landward of the territorial sea baseline, in cases where the baseline and the coastline differ.

Section 4.80b(a), Customs Regulations, provides, in part, that:

A coastwise transportation of merchandise takes place, within the meaning of the coastwise laws, when merchandise laden at a point embraced within the coastwise laws ("coastwise point") is unladen at another coastwise point, regardless of the origin or ultimate destination of the merchandise. However, merchandise is not transported coastwise if at an intermediate port or place other than a coastwise point (that is, at a foreign port or place, or at a port or place in a territory or posses- sion of the U.S. not subject to the coastwise laws), it is manufactured or processed into a new and different product, and the new and different product thereafter is transported to a coastwise point. (Emphasis added)

In applying § 4.80b(a), Customs has held that merchandise manufactured or processed into a “new and different product” must be landed and processed at an intermediate port or place other than a coastwise point. The manufacturing or processing may not take place on board a vessel. Pursuant to Treasury Decision (T.D.) 91-32 published in the Federal Register on April 10, 1991 (56 FR 14467) and in the Customs Bulletin on April 24, 1991 (Customs Bulletin and Decisions, vol. 25, no. 17, April 24, 1991, at pp. 1-5) prior to reaching a determination that a “new and different product” has in fact been created by a blending operation for purposes of § 4.80b(a), the procedures and specific data of such operations should be submitted by the party seeking such a determination. Customs will then review the data and make the necessary determination which will form the basis for a decision regarding any possible violation of 46 U.S.C. App. § 883.

Upon reviewing the specific data submitted in this case, we note the following. As indicated by PDVSA, [

As fuel oils are bought, sold, and traded worldwide on the basis of their ASTM grades, we remain of the opinion that the ASTM designation defines the commercial character of the product.

Despite PDVSA’s claim, [

], we are of the opinion that the shipment of the blended products to the United States aboard a foreign-flag vessel would be a violation of the Jones Act.

However, [

] in view of the broad specifications submitted in this case, Customs is unable to render a definitive answer to PDVSA’s request within the scope of their current inquiry. Rather, it is our opinion that a determination as to whether a “new and different product” within the meaning of 19 CFR § 4.80b(a) would be created with regard to PDVSA’s inquiry can only be made based on more specific data submitted on a case-by-case basis.


From the specifications submitted, the blending operation described above is not sufficient to create a “new and different product” within the meaning of 19 CFR § 4.80b(a). However, additional specifications may yield a different result on a case-by-case basis.


Larry L. Burton

Previous Ruling Next Ruling