Concerns: the national interest of Curaçao versus the interest of a small select group, as well as in their foreign interests involved.
Dear Mr. Pisas and Mrs. Larmonie,
Through the usual news media in Curaçao I learned that there is an intention to conclude an agreement in the short term with a local group under the name CORC, to continue the oil refining with the former Isla refinery and to have the group also take the oil terminal at Bullen Bay into operation.
In connection with this intention, I feel compelled to bring the following to your attention:
The local news media of Curaçao also mentioned the formalization of the intended legal relationship with the CORC group in the form of a ground lease (to be granted to the CORC group). Such a ground lease for shaping the legal relationship is strongly discouraged for the following reasons:
The legal consequences of such a ground lease will be very disadvantageous for Curaçao, not only in legal terms, but also in economic terms, because in legal terms, the leaseholder becomes the de facto owner of the ground leased land with the buildings. And from an economic point of view, this leasehold will form an obstacle to the future economic growth that can be achieved for the country of Curaçao with the large-scale development of the entire Bullen Bay area into a transit port under its own management. This is a feasible scenario, due to the unique logistical position of Bullen Bay on the maritime highway via the Panama Canal to the Far East.
Also, one cannot lose sight of the associated risk (an unavoidable legal consequence) that not only the management and operation, but even the ownership of the oil terminal plus the adjacent water plot will pass into the hands of the leaseholder via accession.
Another, extremely serious risk is that the leaseholder is authorized and entitled to take out a (possibly very large loan) with mortgage collateral to that effect, the ground leased, including the oil terminal with the adjacent water plot.
If subsequently the borrower defaults on the agreed repayment of the loan debt, the lender is authorized to sell the collateral in an enforceable manner and then the deep-sea port at Bullen Bay could fall into – as yet unknown – foreign hands via that route, which, however, could fall into geopolitical hands which may be considered undesirable for the Kingdom.
In addition, the Kingdom Defense would be tasked with defending the Bullen Bay area against unwanted interference, or actions of the kind that the Gulf States in the Middle East is regularly confronted with. That military defense would not only cost millions, because military interventions are very expensive, but such a scenario would also mean that the Defense of the Kingdom would have to be used to protect foreign interests in the Bullen Bay area.
And then the Dutch taxpayer would have to pay for the costs of such an undesirable situation that takes place far from their bed on the other side of the ocean and in which they have no part. This will provoke the necessary irritation and resistance among the citizens of the Netherlands towards Curaçao.
There is no objection to humanitarian emergency aid here in the Netherlands, because in general the national character in the Netherlands is inclined to donate to those – anywhere in the world – who are in need, especially in Curaçao. However, public opinion in the Netherlands will not react so mildly regarding the high costs of military interventions in Curaçao.
In connection with the treaty obligations for climate control of the Kingdom (including the autonomous country of Curaçao, which is also a treaty partner) and very specifically referring to the limitation of CO2 emissions, the intended continuation of the refining activities will have an extremely counterproductive effect, because that continuation is diametrically opposed to the treaty obligations that also apply to Curaçao.
In particular, the punitive financial sanctions, which are already being imposed worldwide for violations of international environmental standards, will place a heavy burden on Curaçao's treasury in the future.
Recently, here in the Netherlands, a verdict was handed down against SHELL in proceedings initiated by Milieudefensie and several other environmental organizations. The decision was smashing against Shell, which has been ordered by court order to reduce by 2030 (i.e. within nine years) the CO2 emissions that Shell causes worldwide by 45 per cent (i.e. by almost half). The verdict has been declared provisionally enforceable, so even if Shell appeals, they must immediately start reducing emissions.
With this ruling in The Hague, global case law has also been established, because Shell is a multinational and all other multinationals in the world are now also exposed to this newly-established international environmental standard.
Government leaders worldwide have 'instantly' started to adjust their government policies, realizing that this jurisprudence has really boosted the global climate control movement and is now unstoppable. In the future, Curaçao will also not be able to avoid heavy financial sanctions in the event of violations of environmental standards.
Incidentally, I think (and many think so too) that this small, select, but private group does not really intend to continue the refining activities, they are expected to drop the restart of the former Isla refinery like a hot potato as soon as they own the deep-sea port via a long lease. They are exclusively or mainly concerned with the deep-sea port and the oil terminal with the existing infrastructure, which they have then been given free of charge.
The question arises whether the caretaker government of Curaçao is aware of the unavoidable and undesirable legal consequences of granting a long lease to a small select private (!) group and with their affiliated foreign partners, to whom in this way not only the main natural resource of Curaçao (the deep-sea port of Bullen Bay), but at the same time the existing port facilities there, such as the piers, jetties and the underground infrastructure, are also used.
I also point out that the autonomous country of Curaçao currently already has two public limited companies, namely CPA and Curoil, both owned by the country, which will be almost completely squeezed out of the market as a result of this proposed “deal” with the CORC group, in terms of their respective core businesses.
After all, CPA is the existing port company that has the required know-how and experience, as well as the necessary business resources, to be able to operate a port successfully. Curoil's core business is international oil trading, but from an operational point of view it will certainly not be able to compete with a giant such as the Brazilian partner in the CORC group, which is also an oil trader.
In doing so, this small private group, together with their foreign partners, is given the opportunity to reap the fruits of real estate plus infrastructure for their own financial gain in the future, in which they themselves have not invested a cent in the past for the realization of this.
At the same time, the Country of Curaçao is thus giving up a unique opportunity to develop the entire Bullen Bay area under its own management into a transit port, with which unmistakable economic growth for Curaçao can be achieved.
Finally, I hereby assure you that this advice is issued to you in the interest of the Country and especially of the people of Curaçao. It has an interest in the Country that natural resources, such as a deep-sea port, remain in Curaçao's ownership and management. And it is in the people's interest that the large-scale development of the Bullen Bay area creates much-needed employment and therefore prosperity for all of Curaçao.
I have no personal interest in it, but I hope and pray from the bottom of my heart that Curaçao will climb out of the economic trough through the wise policy of the new coalition and become a prosperous country.