KRALENDIJK– Commissioner James Kroon feels it is time for the island to start thinking of giving new use to the terrain of former oil terminal BOPEC.
“It is time to think about an alternative destination for the BOPEC site. Since the company went bankrupt in March last year, there is still no prospect of a possible new owner who wants to use the facilities,” says Kroon. The commissioner considers the chance that a takeover candidate will still be found, small. “Despite the fact that there is a lot of money to be made in the sector due to the high oil price on the world market, not one serious interested party has come forward.
Look at Curaçao and Aruba: there the refineries are rusting away. Why would you also invest in fossil fuels if we are in the middle of the transition to a CO2-free world?” Kroon points out that the condition of the installations on the BOPEC site is not without danger. “Even before the bankruptcy, the situation was precarious due to overdue maintenance. It has only worsened in the past ten months.
A restart of the storage and transshipment activities, according to Kroon, may cost tens of millions. “No matter how hard the curator tries, his search for a new operator has no chance. In addition, specialist personnel are required for a restart.
Kroon also points out to the fact that the majority of BOPEC’s former employees have in the meantime started working elsewhere, and will probably not be prepared to take on a new uncertain adventure.
Kroon also points to the ambitions of the island to be a Blue Destination, and that this is another consideration to think of a new future for the decaying oil terminal.
“The Rutte IV cabinet announces in the coalition agreement that it wants to invest extra in the economy of the Caribbean Netherlands. I want to seize this offer with both hands by proposing to use the BOPEC site together with the experts from the ministries for the development of a new economic pillar, which will also make us a little less dependent on tourism alone.”
The commissioner is thinking of port facilities for the transshipment of containers, among other things. “Large ships deliver the containers, which are then transported on to destinations in the region with smaller ships. And since we want to remove the supply of goods for our own use from the center of Kralendijk, partly for safety reasons, it can also be moved to the BOPEC location.”
Kroon feels the spin-off will be big. “Once you’re a transshipment hub, you can take advantage of that in multiple ways. For example, you could establish a recycling center for the region there. The problem with islands is that they have too small a supply to do this themselves in a profitable way. But if you collect and process all the materials to be recycled from several islands at a central point, you do have a business case. Of course you have to make sure that you only receive items that can be processed sustainably. We should not be left with a lot of filth at the end of the process.”
The first assignment for the recycling center would be to dismantle the installations. “That is quite a job”, says Kroon, who is convinced that there are many more options to consider. “I would also like to use the creativity in our own community for that. To start with, I will invite the Central Dialogue to contribute ideas, but everyone who has a good idea is of course welcome.” Parallel to this, Kroon says, it will have to be investigated whether there is any contaminated soil that must first be removed.