CAP = Gebakken Lucht

Last week, I saw a CAP ad appear in the newspapers, full color mind you which is more expensive, even in Solo Di Pueblo; the ad for Compania Arubano Petrolero was signed by the MinEnergy, and talked about progress with gas and petroleum exploration.

The ad printed badly in most newspapers, so I couldn’t read it – Minister, your graphic designer should have used more print-friendly fonts — but I guessed it promoted the myth that CAP is committed to invest more than US$100 million in exploration — whose money? — and the CAP has complete confidence in the investment climate in Aruba.

I asked my friends for their reaction.

Friend #1.: More proof that they greenwash rather than actually believe in sustainability. I pray there is nothing there.  Between our corrupt politicians pocketing profits and Maduro coming for us, nothing good can come of it.

Friend #2.: Problem is that the way things go here the MinPres will not involve experts such as the Norwegians and their NORAD Oil for Development Program, but will rather have Benny, Frank and Paul help him…… Besides, I do not believe a thing these ads say. All gebakken lucht as far as I’m concerned……. They call them luchtfietsers in the Netherlands.

Friend #3.: I am grateful that these are just “pie in the sky” promises…

Friend #4. He took his time and wrote a good piece about the prospect of oil exploration, so I am publishing his comments here: There are good ways and bad ways to handle these type natural resource development programs. There is something they call ‘The Norwegian Model,’ which is considered the absolute Gold Standard when it comes to overall transparency and environmental awareness in sustainable petroleum development.

Bear in mind that Norway (a country the size of Italy but with less than 5 million population…) only became a crude oil exporter in the mid- to late 1970s and it immediately enacted legislation to ensure that all of the income generated by petroleum sales is invested in a fund for future generations. And that is exactly what was done in the early 1990s.

So about 40 years later Norway has the richest government pension fund (aka ‘The Oil Fund’…) worth about a trillion U$ dollars. While this is of course the envy of the world, what I personally really respect about the Norwegians is that they have actually established a ‘free school’ that teaches developing countries around the world how to avoid the so called ‘resource curse’ that we have sadly seen in many parts of Africa, Asia and South America (read: Venezuela, Brazil…).

And it’s not just ‘lip service,’ because they have invested close to U$D 50 million annually (if not more…) through NORAD (The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation…) by establishing a program called ‘Oil For Development,’ In 2005.  Basically they try to create far-reaching relationships with countries that are on the cusp of coming into vast resource (commodity…) development riches by teaching them how to best deal with getting rich overnight.

It covers the gamut from capacity building of governmental civil servant agencies, fiscal and tax relates structures, investment advice, anti-corruption legislation etc. NORAD also places great emphasis on involving ‘civil-society Actors,’ the NGOs such as the Aruba Birdlife Conservation Foundation, Stichting Deugdelijk Bestuur Aruba, and Aruba Reef Care Foundation, who are often times overlooked and/or marginalized for political reasons by the government or dictators in power (as we ourselves only know all too well…).

So I guess what I’m really trying to say with all of this is that if by chance nature should bless us with commercially recoverable offshore oil & gas reserves I don’t think that we should pass this opportunity up especially not if we could involve the Norwegians and their NORAD Oil for Development Program to help ‘us all’ along the way.

Friend #5.:  If the MinInfra is interested in talking to NORAD, I know people who can facilitate the contact…

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September 06, 2017
Rona Coster