Published On: Tue, Jul 18th, 2017

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Guangdong Zhenrong is as good as its word ??

oil refineryIn the front page editorial of a Curaçao newspaper in the edition of Wednesday December 21st, 2016,  under the headline  “GZE is as good as its word”, I remark the following: This editorial was published more than six (6) months ago, and let's focus now on which cold hard facts have materialized in the meantime! GZE informed us that they changed their minds and that they are now contemplating the construction of a whole new refinery at Bullenbay, which means goodbye to the modernization of Isla. It remains to be seen whether after 2½ (two and a half  years) per January 1st, 2020, GZE will still stick to its word and will either take up the modernization or construct a new refinery at Bullenbay. Particularly in view of the market dynamics in the fossil industry.

GZE indeed flaunted their contracts containing a firm commitment by a Chinese banking consortium to finance either of the two projects. All this in order to facilitate the signing of binding agreements by the government of Curaçao, granting GZE far reaching concessions to commercially operate our deep seaport and to commercialize our own national logistic position on the maritime highway to the Panama Canal. This being their sole and primary aim to get hold of full control of our seaport at Bullenbay and thereto making promises from here to Tokyo that they will invest billions of dollars, such is their tried and well-tested method worldwide to persuade local governments to sign such far-reaching agreements with state-owned corporations of China. And to sign them rather today than tomorrow. Rather now, two years and a half in advance of the date of January 1st, 2020, when maybe, maybe not we will witness the execution and implementation of the agreements as signed years before.

By the date of 01-01-2020 we shall see whether GZE will invoke force majeure to refrain from the anticipated implementation of the contracts signed an ample three years in advance of the actual implementation date. But then we will have committed ourselves to a Lease Agreement for the modernization of the Isla refinery, inclusive of the oil terminal and possibly also an LNG-terminal at Bullenbay. Not only will China then be in control of two of our sea ports, but the most important pillars of our economy will also transit to them, and they will also have a splendid opportunity to commercialize our logistic position on the maritime highway to the Panama Canal for their own benefit. Our own natural resources, being our national assets will then have become the corporate assets of GZE.
Not a single bank in the world provides loans without demanding a certain type of security for the repayment of the loan, neither will the Chinese banking consortium. And if GZE in the future fails to comply with its payment obligations, our national resources will quietly pass into the hands of some foreign entity that possesses the required financial resources to acquire them at a public auction.

Such entity will then have our entire energy chain under its management and control and Curaçao will be more dependent than it ever was at the time when it was a colony in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Energy supply is the lifeline of every modern society and likewise in the society of Curaçao. This scenario outlined above, will impact practically all the other sectors of our national economy, such as tourism and other types of industrial enterprise. We must strive for economic independence by risk-spreading in the LID (i.e. the Large-scale Industrial Development) at Bullenbay.

Curaçao BEWARE!!!

By Marguérite Nahar 

Juriste Marguérite Nahar was, until mid-October, external legal adviser to Refineria di Korsou (RdK)

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