Filed under: Aruba News, Business and Economy, Oil Industry, Press Releases
Valero Energy (VLO) Tuesday said its Aruba refinery may resume operations after completing turnaround maintenance in September if it is profitable to do so.
Operations at Valero’s Benicia, California, refinery will return to full operating rates by late August following about 60 days of unplanned maintenance at a coker unit, the co. said Tuesday. The coker was shut June 19-20 and was originally expected to return to service by early August. Also, work continues to install an emissions-reducing scrubber at the plant; that project will be finished by the end of the year.
Valero will proceed with hydrocracker projects at its St. Charles refinery in Norco, Louisiana, to be completed in late 2013 and at its Port Arthur, Texas, plant that will be completed in late 2012, the co. said Tuesday. The FCCU at St. Charles will be revamped during the 2nd quarter of 2011. Also six coke drums will be replaced at Port Arthur.
And plant-wide turnaround is expected to take place at Valero’s Ardmore, Okla., refinery which will impact 1st quarter 2011 results.
Sunoco Inc. (SUN) Sunday shut the smaller of two FCCUs at its Philadelphia, Pa., refinery for one week of unplanned maintenance to repair a leak, a person familiar with operations at the plant said Monday.
A sulfur recovery unit at Pasadena Refining’s Pasadena, Texas, oil refinery will continue to operate Monday while repairs are made at an associated quench tower, a filing with environmental regulators said. The work to replace a valve at the tower will take approximately 12 hours.
Valero Energy (VLO) Friday reported maintenance at an exchanger in Complex 2 at its Texas City, Texas, oil refinery. The work, at an unspecified unit, started at around 10:00 p.m. Friday and will end at about the same time on Aug. 4, a filing to environmental regulators said.
THE HAGUE–Dutch Government announced on Friday that it has started the reorganisation of the backlog in payments of the Island Territory of St. Eustatius to the general Antillean pension fund APNA.
The amount of the money is NAf. 6,686,652.15, almost 2.3 million euros, and involves the backlog up to and including 2005. The backlog in payments of 2006 and 2007 will also be paid as soon as the Council for Financial Supervision CFT renders a positive advice. The amount for 2006 and 2007 is NAf. 1,384,667 (55,280 euros).
The debts of the Island Territory of Curaçao will also be paid of the Country the Netherlands Antilles, it was announced in a press release issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations BZK on Friday.
The reorganisation of Curaçao’s debts was agreed upon in the most recent Political Steering Group (PSG) meeting on December 9, 2009.
In the near future, an amount of more than NAf. 43 million (some 15.5 million euros) will be paid to Curaçao so the debts of Study Financing Foundation Curaçao SSC, the garbage collection and waste processing company Selikor, the drug rehabilitation foundation FMA, the educational centre Feffik, the road fund Stichting Wegenfonds Curaçao and the bus company Autobusbedrijf Curaçao could be paid.
The Netherlands is reorganising the debts so the new entities, Countries Curaçao and St. Maarten, and the BES islands – Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba – as part of the Dutch Constellation, could start with a clean sheet when the Country the Netherlands Antilles is dismantled October 10, 2010.
As agreed upon in the Final Declaration of November 2006, there are conditions attached to the debt reorganisation, such as financial supervision and good governance codes. State Secretary of Kingdom Relations, Ank Bijleveld-Schouten, has ceased payments to Bonaire “because it is unclear whether the island wants to stick to the earlier agreements,” it was stated in the press release.
Bijleveld-Schouten starts a five-day visit to Aruba and Curaçao this Monday. On Monday, she will first visit Aruba where she will meet Governor Fredis Refunjol, several members of the cabinet, Chairman of Parliament Andy Lee and the faction leaders of the political parties. On Tuesday, she meets with Aruba’s Council of Ministers and will visit the Police Force.
On Wednesday, Bijleveld-Schouten will be in Curaçao. The main agenda point during that visit will be the progress of constitutional reform in the Kingdom. On Thursday, there will be a political consultation with the Country the Netherlands Antilles, Curaçao and St. Maarten.
On the agenda of the PSG will be the cooperation of the police forces of the new countries and the corps for the BES islands, as well as the joint facility to combat organised and international crime. Bijleveld-Schouten will return to the Netherlands on Friday.
The discussion about switching from the Antillean guilder to the US dollar in Curaçao and St. Maarten when the Netherlands Antilles ceases to exist has died down somewhat since a symposium on the subject at the end of last year. However, preparations for “dollarisation” continue unabated behind the scenes in financial circles in Willemstad, confirmed director Chicu Capriles of Maduro & Curiel’s Bank (MCB), the parent company of Windward Islands Bank (WIB), during a recent interview on TeleCuraçao.
The banker was quite candid about it, saying the move made sense considering the strong economic ties to the US. He added that the public would be duly informed in due time and every effort would be made for the process to go as smoothly as possible.
The fact that the BES islands Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, which are to become special overseas bodies of the Netherlands, have already chosen for the US dollar – rather than the euro, which says a lot – plays a role as well. Maintaining an Antillean guilder only for the two islands in the process of becoming autonomous countries in the Dutch Kingdom simply is not worth it, also because the dollar already rules in St. Maarten. The latter is definitely the case and has been for years. In fact, if it were not for government and people having to pay a one per cent foreign exchange licence fee at the bank every time they take out dollars, most likely even fewer guilders would be in circulation on the Dutch side.
That’s why it’s hard to understand why the local political establishment appears to be dragging its feet on this issue. After all, a switch to the dollar on “The Friendly Island” with its one-pillar tourism economy and North America as predominant source market most likely would be much easier and less cumbersome than in Curaçao. Not only that, but if Curaçao goes the dollar route it would leave St. Maarten little choice, because an own currency just for the island considering the widespread use of the dollar is hardly worth considering. In addition, the agreement for the two future countries to continue sharing the Central Bank would lose much of its value, because the role of that institution would be severely diminished in case of ”dollarisation” and it probably would be replaced by a much smaller and less influential regulatory board to supervise the financial sector.
It’s noteworthy that Central Bank President Emsley Tromp is the main proponent of switching to the dollar, despite the strongly limiting effect it would have on the very institution he heads. His position apparently has been adopted by financial circles in Willemstad to the point where work is already underway it make it a reality.
St. Maarten should waste no time in doing its own homework. A switch to the dollar would indeed seem to make every sense in the world and at least would spell an end to the current undesirable practice of penalising local residents with a licence fee for doing business in the predominant currency.
Source: The Daily Herald St. Maarten
Valero Energy Corp. has decided to close the company’s refinery in Aruba indefinitely because of unfavorable market conditions, a Valero spokesman said Wednesday.
The San Antonio-based refiner said in June it would close the Aruba plant for two to three months because the plant wasn’t profitable, and the plant stopped production in mid-July.
“It’s clear now that conditions have not improved any, and we don’t see any significant improvement in the near future,” Valero spokesman Bill Day said. “So the outage will be extended indefinitely.”
Employees at the plant, located on a Caribbean island off the coast of Venezuela, were told of Valero’s decision Wednesday.
Several hundred contract workers will be let go over the next two to three weeks, but about 780 Valero employees will keep their jobs, Day said. The employees will perform maintenance and receive training, he said.
The refinery has been losing tens of millions of dollars a month, Day said.
Demand for fuel is in a slump because of the troubled global economy, and the heavy crude oils the Aruba facility can process now are more costly to acquire. Those conditions have slammed the plant’s profitability.
When the plant was shuttered in June, Valero put it in “hot mothball” status, keeping key units powered up so the refinery could be re-started in a relatively short period of time. Now the plant is going to “cold shutdown” mode.
The plant’s status will be reviewed from time to time, “but we’re not setting a timetable for ourselves” to restart it, Day said.
Valero has had the refinery on the auction block since November 2007, but no buyer has emerged.
WILLEMSTAD–Curaçao and St. Maarten are advised to seek broad-based support before opting for full-fledged dollarisation of their economies. The conclusion of the dollarisation conference “Opportunities and Risks of Dollarisation in the Dutch Caribbean” held in Curaçao on Monday was that more debate on the topic is necessary.
The public should also look at other countries that have dollarised economies, advised a majority of the featured speakers during the conference held under the auspices of Minister of Finance Ersilia de Lannooy.
The conference, intended to lay out the opportunities, risks and effects of dollarisation, in particular as these would apply to St. Maarten, Curaçao and the BES islands Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba as new entities in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, turned out to be a very technical discussion more suited for financial experts. It was well-attended by political and financial experts of Aruba and all five islands of the Netherlands Antilles.
St. Maarten’s Finance Commissioner Xavier Blackman told The Daily Herald that the conclusion was that a perfect system didn’t exist and in his view dollarisation was only an option.
In St. Maarten’s case, the question is whether there is any added value in making the step from an informal US dollar economy, which the island already has, to a formal US dollar economy.
“What are the pros and cons? Adopting the US dollar will mean that we will lose some financial autonomy,” said Blackman.
He lamented the lack of statistical information about St. Maarten, which makes it difficult to make predictions about the consequences of dollarisation.
One detail that emerged during the panel discussions, which some considered shocking, is that the St. Maarten workforce consists of 85 per cent foreign labour.
Blackman said yesterday’s conference had been a good beginning and he had spoken with Minister de Lannooy about organising another conference in St. Maarten.
“We want to attract a bigger audience and have less technical discussions. The question that should be answered is: what does dollarisation mean for the average man in the street,” said Blackman.
The discussion on dollarisation was triggered after Emsley Tromp, president of the Bank of the Netherlands Antilles (BNA), stated recently that based on the effects of the financial crisis it would be better to have a dollarised economy, as this would mitigate the negative effects.
According to Tromp, the Antilles did not feel the effects of the world financial downturn because of the debt relief programme and funds made available by the Dutch Government in light of the Social Economic Initiative.
However, if such situation should reoccur in three years, the islands would feel the pinch, Tromp said.
Blackman believed that the islands would be able to withstand another world financial crisis if they took care of their budgetary debts in the meantime, but yesterday Tromp reiterated his recent statement that in the view of BNA, dollarisation was an attractive option for Curaçao and St. Maarten.
Jane Semeleer, President of the Central Bank of Aruba, was the only speaker to oppose this viewpoint, stating that maintaining an Antillean guilder should be thoroughly considered.
According to Tromp, the deteriorating deficit on the current account balance of payment increases the vulnerability to external shocks. Therefore, dollarisation is a viable alternative monetary system for Curaçao and St. Maarten, as it eliminates this vulnerability and contributes to sound and sustainable economic development.
Semeleer believed that maintaining an own currency would contribute to the identity of the public in general. She said that if the feature countries complied with the necessary conditions it would be as viable to maintain an own currency as it would be to dollarise the economy.
Semeleer said furthermore that Aruba was surprised by BNA considering dollarising, as this would have far-reaching consequences for Aruba as well. If the BES islands as well as Curaçao and St. Maarten introduce the US dollar as their official tender, it would put the Aruban dollar under enormous pressure.
Richard Doornbosch of the Dutch Ministry of Finance outlined how the introduction of the dollar would take place for the BES islands.
The US dollar will become legal tender as of January 1, 2011. All “electronic” payments will take place in dollars from 12:00am onwards.
All accounts will be converted automatically at the rate of NAf. 1.79 per US dollar. The Antillean guilder will continue to be legal tender for one month, but hopefully it will be out of circulation within a week, said Doornbosch.
After January 31, 2011, BES citizens can exchange guilder cash for US dollars at designated banks for a certain period.
The Dutch government will take responsibility for possible exchange rate risk for civil servants’ salaries, taxes and other benefits, among other things.
According to Doornbosch, the decision to dollarise the economies of the BES islands was taken because this would bring about macro-economic stability and economic and financial integration in the region, among other things.
World Bank senior economist Lars Moller recommended further studying of the several economies all over the world that have introduced the US dollar as legal tender.
He specifically used Panama as a case study, saying the country was one of the largest non-US economies currently using the dollar.
However, Panama has more than 100 years of experience as a dollarised economy and adopted the dollar for historical and political reasons rather than due to an evaluation of the pros and cons of alternative arrangements or the short-term cost involved in the transition to a new regime.
Moller said the more recent experiences of Ecuador (2000) and El Salvador (2001) were more relevant for Curaçao and St. Maarten, but also too recent for empirical analysis.
Lessons learnt from Panama’s dollarisation experience, said Moller, are that it may improve inflation performance, but has some risk of higher growth volatility, and that dollarisation does not guarantee fiscal discipline, but fiscal rules help.
Furthermore, Moller said, dollarisation can help to ensure financial stability and for Panama it facilitated close integration with the US and world economies.
Mark O’Brian of the Monetary and Capital Markets Department at the International Monetary Fund believed it was difficult to come up with a clear-cut answer to whether the advantages of a move to full dollarisation would outweigh the disadvantages. To get a firmer view on this question, it may be necessary to undertake some further analysis in addition to what yesterday’s conference achieved.
If a decision is made to proceed with dollarisation, significant preparations would need to be undertaken, he said. There will need to be new legislation to define an alternative role for the Central Bank. This implies assigning the Central Bank a different objective, changing its functions and tasks, and revisiting its governing structure accordingly.
Also consultations would need to take place with the US Government regarding areas of cooperation, primarily regarding facilitating the availability of banknotes and maybe coins. In the latter scenario, countries might explore the conditions to ensure that the transport of new cash currency runs smoothly and the replacement of unfit banknotes is seamlessly accepted, although these arrangements could also be made with commercial banks, said O’Brian.
Wescot-Williams attends ‘Opportunities and Risks of Dollarisation in the Dutch Caribbean’ Conference
Filed under: Business and Economy, Conferences and Trade Shows
WILLEMSTAD–Democratic Party (DP) Leader Island Councilwoman Sarah Wescot-Williams is in Curaçao for the one-day conference on “Opportunities and Risks of Dollarization in the Dutch Caribbean,” being held in the auditorium of Central Bank of the Netherlands Antilles.
This conference will deal with opportunities, risks and effects of dollarization for St. Maarten, Curacao and the BES Islands (Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba). Several high level financial experts are scheduled to speak at the conference, organised by Minister of Finance Ersilia de Lannooy. Featured speakers include Central Bank President Emsley Tromp, Aruba Central Bank President Jane Semeleer, Lars Moller of the World Bank and Mark O’Brien of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Several people from St. Maarten are to be part of the panel discussions in the afternoon, including Windward Islands Bank (WIB) Managing Director Jan Beaujon, Princess Juliana International Airport President Eugene Holiday, Small Business Development Foundation Executive Director Ludwig Ouenniche and St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA) President Emil Lee. They will be joined on the panels by their counterparts in Curaçao.
Wescot-Williams, who will return home Tuesday, said the conference is of high importance to the future of the island as it works to country status. She added that DP will seek to work with government and businesses to bring information about dollarization to the people of St. Maarten. “The sooner this can be done, the better.”
There has been a drastic move in favour of dollarization coming from Curaçao in the past months. St. Maarten’s financial experts had suggested the possibility of adopting the dollar as the currency for the new countries in the early 2000s. However, at that time, there was not much support coming from Curaçao for the move.
The islands have a political agreement to establish a joint Central Bank with a rotating presidency between St. Maarten and Curaçao and a joint currency. “This makes it urgent that the people of both islands get as much information regarding the currency options,” said Wescot-Williams, who is a former Constitutional Affairs and Finance Commissioner.
Dollarization has been prompted recently as an attractive option for Curaçao and St. Maarten by Tromp, a feature speaker of the conference, in his yearly economic report.
With this new push to dollarize, a joint Central Bank may no longer be needed if the islands decide to go this route. The BES Islands, which will become Dutch dependencies, have already chosen to dollarize.
The dollarization conference has generated enormous interested. To satisfy this interest throughout the Netherlands Antilles, the forum will be simulcast on radio, Internet and television.
Venezuela’s state-owned PDVSA shut down all of its processing units at the 325,000-barrel-per-day (BBL/d) Willemstad Isla refinery in Curacao because of an unexpected power outage on April 27.
Power and air were restored to the plant within 24 hours, and steam production resumed on April 29. The 160,000-BBL/d Crude 3 and 48,000-BBL/d Feed Cracker 2 are expected to be restarted during the day, followed by all of the other units over the weekend and early next week.
On April 24, the 52,000-BBL/d fluid catalytic cracking unit (FCCU) was shut down because of steam-related issues. Plant authorities said they considered accelerating the September 2009 turnaround and maintenance repairs on the FCCU and 48,000-BBL/d Feed Cracker 1; however, they decided to perform only necessary immediate repairs on both units to have them online by May 6. The 40-day maintenance turnaround is being rescheduled and could be postponed until the first quarter of 2010.
The refinery experienced four power outages in 2008. The first one occurred on April 9 as several units from the hydrotreatment operation area were reaching normal production rates after a 50-day planned maintenance shutdown.
Filed under: Business and Economy, Law Enforcement and Crime
Giovanni van Ierland owned the Campo Alegre Brothel in partnership with his long time attorney, Leslie Franklin.
Van Ierland had the majority interest in the Campo Alegre Brothel and completely owned the Campo Alegre Casino.
Both men were convicted of drug & money laundering crimes in 2002. Attorney Leslie Franklin was sentenced to seven years and van Ierland to twelve.
Franklin was released in 2006 and took over the Campo Alegre Brothel, but not the Casino which was licensed to van Ierland. The Casino was closed.
Leslie Franklin is currently the sole owner of the Campo Alegre Brothel. He is a Free Man in Curacao.
Giovanni van Ierland, released from prison in September 2008, prior to being shot in the head three times on January 27, 2009,
was engaged in a court battle to regain his majority ownership of the Campo Alegre Brothel from Leslie Franklin.
Due to his untimely death, five months after his release from prison, van Ierland’s wife, Raquel and her late husband’s attorney, Marius Römer,
now have to make the decision to continue the court battle to regain the van Ierland share of the Campo Alegre Brothel from Leslie Franklin.
All of this information has been assembled from United States, Curacao & Dutch Government Reports along with Curacaol & International News Reports,
Not idle gossip tossed around at the Brothel.
Video news report of the ‘Assassination of Giovanni van Ierland’ on Tuesday, January 27, 2009 while driving in his BMW in Curacao.
The sedan crashed into a tree & expended 9mm cartridges litter the street at the death scene.
The ban on plastic shopping bags because of the damage they inflict on the environment has taken effect in Curaçao. Through good cooperation between the association of local supermarkets and the Island Government, among others, an information campaign was held and re-usable bags supplied. The question is when St. Maarten will follow suit. That plastic bags also constitute a big problem here was once again confirmed during the recent cleanup of five local beaches, when they greatly outnumbered the pieces of paper removed. Preliminary results of an online survey conducted by Sundial School students in any case indicated that the vast majority of the 90 respondents support a ban on plastic shopping bags. A total of 67 per cent favours charging for plastic shopping bags to encourage the use of “green” bags, while 87 per cent fancies a reward for reusing shopping bags and 77 per cent supports an outright ban on free plastic bags. In Curaçao the new, durable shopping bags are sold at cost price for one guilder, considered the consumer’s contribution to safeguarding the environment. Of course, people can also bring their own non-plastic bags. The complaints there have been minimal so far. One rule is that people coming with their own bags most fold them to make clear they are empty, so there is no confusion between what was already inside and what was purchased inside the supermarket. It’s also important to have enough durable bags available, although empty carton boxes at the supermarkets and bags people bring from home can make quite a difference. The Executive Council of St. Maarten has been talking for some time about a possible plastic ban here too, but so far there is no indication as to when this can be achieved. It appears the cooperation between the food stores and government that was essential in preparing and introducing the ban in Curaçao has not really gotten off the ground here, at least not yet. There is no time to lose, however. The longer it is delayed, the greater the damage to nature and as a result the scenery that helps to make the island such a favoured destination. Surely, while preparation time is no doubt needed, the parties involved should be able to learn from Curaçao’s experience and use that to introduce a plastic bag ban here in the very short term.
Source: The Daily Herald
AMSTERDAM -(Dow Jones)- Van Lanschot Bankiers (30263.AE) Friday announced it has reached an agreement with ING Group’s (ING) ING Bank N.V. on the acquisition by Van Lanschot Bankiers (Curacao) N.V. of the private banking activities of ING Bank N.V. in Curacao, Netherlands Antilles.
Van Lanschot has had a presence in Curacao since 1976, offering private banking, asset management and trust services. The acquisition will enhance Van Lanschot Curacao’s client base and increase its assets under management.
Van Lanschot Bankiers and ING plan to effectively transfer the activities as early as this year. The acquisition will go ahead subject to the approval of the regulator, i.e. the Central Bank of the Netherlands Antilles.
Company web site: http://www.vanlanschot.org