The situation is tense and Citgo indicated that they would like to leave by January 31, 2020. This week is crucial where it will be determined whether they will leave by the set date or not.
In the meantime, negotiations are still ongoing, to convince Citgo to give the “refinery’s key’ back to Aruba, avoiding the refinery taking the key when leaving and hence avoiding long court cases.
The Prime Minister said it was important to negotiate a win-win termination of the agreement with Citgo in order for the local authorities to be able to enter the refinery and make the necessary repairs. The refinery is in a deplorable state including the port.
Prime Minister Wever-Croes said it would be better for Citgo ta abandon the refinery so the government can seek new operators. Meanwhile, the RDA (Refinery of Aruba) has been preparing for the take-over of activities once Citgo leaves. In the event, Citgo leaves by the end of January, by February 1 the RDA needs to continue with the work of the terminal, in time for the next tanker which will arrive with gasoline, fuel and heavy fuel oil (HFO) to guarantee supply.
Despite rumors urging everybody to tank in the weekend as gasoline supply will supposedly be running out, the Prime Minister assured that the local supply of gasoline is not at stake and will not be either and that in the worst-case scenario a plan B is in place. Plan B, according to the Prime Minister is that the Aruba Energy Terminal Company established by the RDA, would operate the terminal and take over. This is a state-owned company, subsidiary of the RDA, which is also a state-owned company. This company was established to take over the terminal after indications that CITGO wanted to bail out. They will take over the supply of gasoline, Heavy Fuel Oil to WEB and jet fuel.
The situation of the employees is currently being negotiated with the assistance of the mediator. The government’s commitment is that they will soon find a new operator that will take over the majority if not all the current refinery employees. The Aruba Energy Terminal Company will hire some, to guarantee the continuance of the work at the port upon arrival of the next tanker in February.
The Prime Minister refutes the rumors that the gasoline supply is running out and urges the community not to panic.
The government of Aruba is currently in the final stages of negotiation with the Citgo, negotiations that are taking excessively long. It was in May 2019 that the Prime Minister announced that she was forming a commission to help find a new operator or help find other options for the refinery. Since then, no commission has been formed yet but considering the current circumstances with the Citgo, it will not take much longer.
The Prime Minister urges everyone to stay calm. The Government has many options ready to guarantee the gasoline supply on the island.