Door Andres F. Casimiri
GreenTown originally was a vision for the day when the 100 year old decaying refinery would stop. All the time that GreenTown was being developed on paper, and fed to the public it became a sensation for ‘environmentalists, economists, freethinkers, urban & city developers. Banks and investors started to seriously look into GreenTown. Everybody became keenly aware that this 4 billion dollar investment and 15 year development plan was a viable feasible option and the proper opportunity to steer Curaçao’s economy in the right direction, while cutting away at the 20,000 unemployed.
It is the best environmental alternative and thought provoked idea to replace the 100 year decaying refinery.
MDPT many foreign trips and years of searching for partners and investors in a new refinery has not resulted in any positive promises for getting the 4 billion dollar needed to modernize the refinery and to make products for this time and age. Local drawn up plans to modernize the refinery have bounced against available funding, investors and/or partners. It is time that closing the refinery in Schottegat is put on the political agenda and that Curaçao pushes forward with GreenTown as their “Economic & Environmental Recovery Program”.
The Isla Refinery provides about 4% of Curaçao GDP and Tourism about 14%. Employment in the tourist sector comes to about 4,500 jobs – representing 8% of total employment. While refining jobs have cut down from a 12,000 high and a 40% high GDP, tourism is in the lift on all fronts. Same can be said about foreign exchange. Isla only provides 1038 jobs directly and 1,000 jobs are provided through local and foreign subcontractors. There is a spin off. The spin off in related sectors such as KTK, Curoil Bunkering, CPA, Dok Shipyard and General Trading and Commerce but will remain unaltered or might even increase with GreenTown in place. COT, KTK, a new gas terminal, CDM are all stand alone enterprises and are less influenced by the presence of a refinery as some like to pretend.
In spite of years of efforts, seeking funding, seeking partners or proper finances, the result remains negative. There is no one. There are no funds. There are no mayor investors. We know it, MDPT knows it, RdK knows it and the government is painful and embarrassingly aware that the game is over. Nobody wants to come out and acknowledge the fact that Curaçao has reached a point and that It must concentrate on an alternative and business model for the expensive real estate in Schottegat.
With the elections in front of us it is understandably the worse time to discuss an alternative for the refinery. “Green” forces have joined together and are coming out in force against the empty promises of MDPT, RdK and PDVSA. They want a ‘clean’ solution. We demand a fair price for the waterfront real estate, more jobs per square meter and more income. Despites MDPT/ISLA/RdK expensive power point presentations, public appeal, tear-jerker, kitsch croon songs about our grandfathers draped in national flags, the message to keep refining has not moved the thousands and thousands pro environment forces, the unemployed and people who want to see changes they believe in. Isla’s message succumbs against a positive green message of hope and of a clean and healthy environment.
The relations ship with Smoc, Clean Air Everywhere and other environmental groups have our full support. We endorse every foundation, club or entity that strives for clean air, clean land and clean waters. We support our young generation that looks ahead and doesn’t want to be dragged into endless skirmishes over oil. Oil is past. The 20,000 unemployed have our undivided attention. They want no pollution over land or sea, ground waters, bays, inlets and sea.
Oil is passé. Curaçao should make the best of refining over the next ten years and start dismantling and cleaning up on a parallel track.
By Andres F. Casimiri