Investments for the facilities of Damen Shiprepair Curacao, the largest shipyard in the Caribbean, are expected to continue shortly. The shipyard located in Curaçao, near the South American coast, is owned by the government and since 2017 it has been leased to Damen.
The shipyard recently undertook the first project, which involved an investment of approximately $1.1 million to rehabilitate the gate of one of the yard’s four dry docks. In anticipation of the approval of a larger investment program, Damen has undertaken work on Dock B.
Peter Luiten, managing director of Damen Shiprepair Curacao, told the Curacao Chronicle that “this significant investment should be the green light for a large-scale shipyard refurbishment programme. The decision on the investment program for the site will be taken in a few weeks.
According to the newspaper, the plans call for an investment valued at around $36 million. After Damen took over management of the yard, the company upgraded the facilities with two floating dry docks. The larger of the two is 754 feet long and can accommodate tankers, boxships and other larger vessels. The smallest floating dock measures approximately 328 feet and is suitable for tugboats, workboats, and offshore support and anchor handling vessels.
The yard also has two dry docks, the larger of which can accommodate vessels up to 885 feet in length and a capacity of 150,000 tons. The second drydock has a capacity for vessels up to approximately 558 feet in length and 28,000 tons. The yard also offers three mooring and repair docks with a total length of nearly 3,300 feet.
Established in 1959, the shipyard benefits from its location and has historically had a strong business related to oil operations in Venezuela and a refinery located in Curaçao. The Isla refinery, which has a capacity of 330,000 barrels per day, was however shut down in 2018 during a dispute between its Venezuelan operator Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) and oil company ConocoPhillips. After the lease expired at the end of 2019, the government of Curacao began efforts to attract new operators for the facility. A deal fell apart in 2021, but a recent Reuters report said a new group had been identified and the government hoped to conclude negotiations by September. The petroleum storage terminal would resume operations immediately while the refinery undergoes upgrades.
The shipyard according to the newspaper has reduced its workforce by 78 people out of nearly 300 employees. The re-opening of the refinery would likely give the business a boost and likely contribute to the decision to invest in shipyard facilities.