Refinery Curaçao: Bring Back Plan B

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In 2013 the Parliament of Curaçao approved a two-pronged strategy regarding the future of the Refinery of Curaçao (RoC). The Multidisciplinary Project Team (MDPT) was installed by Decree on 29 November 2013 to be in charge of modernizing the RoC and simultaneously work on redevelopment of the area currently occupied by the RoC in case it’s shut down (terugval scenario t.b.v. een mogelijke sluiting van de rafinaderij en de socio-economische herontwikkeling van het gebied), Plan B.

In the following years it became painfully obvious that chasing Guangdong Zhenrong Energy (GZE) to modernize the RoC was MDPT’s all-consuming activity. During a radio interview with Radio Paradise on 10 February 2016, Prime Minister Whiteman declared that his Government had for some time not been pursuing the two-pronged strategy. In September 2016 a MoU was signed with GZE and in November 2016, a Heads of Agreement (HoA) followed. Continuing to bet on GZE, the Rhuggenaath-Administration signed an addendum to the HoA with GZE in September 2017. In fact, in 2017 it rained MoUs between GZE and Curaçao companies (PSB-Bank, Curoil, Selikor, CDM-Holding, KTK, CPA and Aqualectra). See Photo (curacaochronicle.com).

We now know that GZE played us from the get-go. We also know that four people involved with selecting another party to modernize the RoC have been fired this year whilst two of them have been detained on corruption charges. The current RoC lease contract runs out in exactly six months. But we don’t exactly have world-renowned companies knocking on our doors to operate the RoC, especially considering that many refineries world-wide are closing up shop due to alternative energy sources and the excessive operating costs brought on by new regulations.

Still, Plan B is not being considered let alone rationally debated. Not even in the advent of a possible shut down and layoff of hundreds of workers. For the sake of our future, we need to think long-term and not put all our eggs in one basket for short-sighted (political) gains. A shut down of the RoC is a real possibility. Not talking about it will not solve any problems. Not planning for it will be catastrophic. 

Willemstad, Curaçao

Author: alexdavidrosaria

Alex Rosaria is from Curaçao. He has a MBA from University of Iowa. He was Member of Parliament, Minister of Economic Affairs, State Secretary of Finance and United Nations Development Programme Officer in Africa and Central America. He is an independent consultant active in Asia and the Pacific.

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