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Damen and Curacao Plan Investments for Caribbean’s Largest Shipyard

Damen Curacao Shipyard
Damen Curacao is the largest shipyard in the Caribbean (Damen)

Published Jul 22, 2022 7:41 PM by The Maritime Executive

Investments for the facilities at Damen Shiprepair Curacao, the largest shipyard in the Caribbean, are expected to proceed shortly. The shipyard located on Curacao near the coast of South America is owned by the government and since 2017 has been leased to Damen.

The shipyard recently undertook the first project, which was an investment of approximately $1.1 million for the overhaul of the door on one of the yard’s four dry docks. In anticipation of the approval for a broader investment program, Damen undertook the work on Dock B.

Peter Luiten, general manager of Damen Shiprepair Curacao, told the Curacao Chronicle that “this important investment should be the go-ahead for a large-scale renovation program for the yard. The decision on the investment program for the yard will be made in a few weeks.”

According to the newspaper, the plans call for an investment valued at around $36 million. After Damen took over the management of the yard, the company upgraded the facilities with two floating drydocks. The larger of the two measures 754 feet in length able to accommodate tankers, boxships, and other larger vessels. The smaller floating dock measures approximately 328 feet and is suited for tugs, workboats, and offshore support and anchor handling vessels.

The yard also has two graving docks with the larger able to accommodate vessels up to 885 feet in length and a capacity of 150,000 tons. The second graving dock has a capacity for vessels up to approximately 558 feet in length and 28,000 tons. The yard also offers three mooring and repair quays with a total length of nearly 3,300 feet.

Established in 1959, the shipyard benefits from its location and historically had a strong business tied to the oil operations in Venezuela and a refinery located on Curacao. The 330,000-barrel per day Isla refinery however was idled in 2018 during a dispute between its then Venezuelan operator Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) and oil company ConocoPhillips. After the lease expired at the end of 2019, Curacao’s government began efforts to attract new operators for the facility. A deal collapsed in 2021, but a recent report by Reuters said a new group has been identified and the government hopes to conclude negotiations by September. The oil-storage terminal would resume operations immediately while the refinery undergoes upgrades.

The shipyard according to the newspaper reduced its staff by 78 people from nearly 300 employees. The reopening of the refinery would likely be a boost to the business and is likely contributing to the decision to invest in the yard’s facilities.