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Thread: Some facts about the refinery on Aruba and it's history

  1. #1
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    Some facts about the refinery on Aruba and it's history

    My wife and I were sitting around last night after getting home from our big dinner with the kids, physically we were tired but not ready for bed so we got to talking about the trip we have coming up. I mentioned I wanted to go back to Baby Beach and Robert's Beach near the old housing area near the refinery, also to look at that old pet cemetery. I know it seems odd but as a photographer I like to capture the unusual. When we were there in 2004 and 2007 she was on assignment at the Valero Refinery down on the south end of the island and she worked there during the week and we had fun on the weekends; I think we ended up doing 7 weeks total in Aruba on those 2 trips.

    It got me thinking about who used to run it before Valero and I asked my wife since she has worked with the petro-chem industry for so long. She couldn't remember at first but said she knew it wasn't one of the names we associate with Big Oil now, a name that is used no more. So she did a bit of research. It was Lago Oil and Transport which was bought up by Standard Oil. Standard Oil's trademark brand logo was Esso which was a literal way of saying "SO" for "Standard Oil." And the Esso and Lago logos are very similar, they both used big red letters in a blue oval ring. I can remember Esso gas stations when I was a kid and you still see them in other countries but Esso is now part of Exxon/Mobile and in the USA you only see Exxon/Mobile stations.

    Exxon closed the refinery in 1985 and it was acquired by Coastal Corp who was soon acquired by El Paso Energy. Then in 2004 Valero bought it. They ran it until 2012 and then mothballed it, that period was uncertain for many downstream oil companies with losses when so many smaller country's economies were bad. Now it looks like Citgo will take over from Valero; Citgo is a subsidiary of PDVSA which stands for Petróleos de Venezuela SA. With the closing of the refinery in Curacao they really need a place off shore to refine the oil for other markets. This could be really good for the Aruban economy as not everyone is able to be in the tourism industry.

    Anyway from what I read, the refinery was one of the biggest WORLD WIDE from the 20's through WWII and into the 50's. It helped the USA win the war in Europe as well as with Japan. Sadly, Aruban nationals were not always treated fairly as far as work or pay during those years. The Lago Colony as it was know was mostly for Americans and Foreign Nationals who were white. Arubans of color were paid less and those that did live on the Lago Colony were given lesser grade housing and their kids were sent to lesser more segregated schools. But it seems to be a part of history now, as times have changed so have labor laws as well as those for how multi nationals are treated.

    But the refinery is an important part of Aruban history, as much as many things like the gold smelting, fishing and other things. So when you fly by the refinery or see it if you go to Baby Beach remember a lot of good came to Aruba from that big thing and it will still continue to generate jobs for many Arubans in the future.

    Well, this story is just a bit of history... if you have anything to add feel free to do so. I will be glad if the refinery gets back up and running, there are a lot of good folks in Aruba that can benefit from it. But while it is not something you go to Aruba to see it is worth knowing a bit of the history of that end of the island. There are several Lago Colony website dedicated to the memory of those days there.

    We will also be glad if Citgo asks my wife's company send her down and upgrade the software they sold to Valero and we can get a couple more weeks in Aruba!

  2. #2
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    there are a number of forum members who are "lago colony kids"
    they grew up in the lago colony as their parents were employed there.
    i hope they can add to this thread and to your research.

    you may also want to do a search ..in the search bar use refinery or lago or valero and see what kind of threads come up.

  3. #3
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    The government of Aruba(after almost 100 years) took the Valero Refinery over and now owns the refinery at the same time lease it for 20 years to CITGO under the condition that the refinery will modified it to use Natural Gas instead of fuel to refine

    Citgo will ship the heavy crude from Venezuela and Aruba will dilute it to Light Crude
    for all of your aruba tour needs! http://www.wixtours.com/

  4. #4
    Senior Member cpjones's Avatar
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    Here's some additonal information that I've had for a few years... don't know if it's been updated recently...

    http://www.historiadiaruba.aw/index....d=28&Itemid=42

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    Junior Member ARUBA57's Avatar
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    It's great that board members are expressing an interest in the history of the refinery. I am one of the "Lago Kids" referenced above having been born on "the rock" as we sometimes refer to the island. I was born in '48 and lived with my parents in Lago Colony until 1957 when my father retired from Standard Oil of New Jersey, the parent of Lago Oil and Transport. He always told me that in the '40s it was the third largest refinery in the world. I could write pages of history, but that would take all day. However, if anyone has an interest in the daily life and history of those of us who lived on the island before it was the Aruba destination resort it is today, please feel free to contact me.

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    Information abot Lago Oil and Transport Company

    Quote Originally Posted by ARUBA57 View Post
    It's great that board members are expressing an interest in the history of the refinery. I am one of the "Lago Kids" referenced above having been born on "the rock" as we sometimes refer to the island. I was born in '48 and lived with my parents in Lago Colony until 1957 when my father retired from Standard Oil of New Jersey, the parent of Lago Oil and Transport. He always told me that in the '40s it was the third largest refinery in the world. I could write pages of history, but that would take all day. However, if anyone has an interest in the daily life and history of those of us who lived on the island before it was the Aruba destination resort it is today, please feel free to contact me.

    As a former employee of Esso Research & Engineering Company, I was assigned to a major construction project taking place at the Lago refinery in the early 1970’s. My family and I lived in Seroe Colorado, the “colony”, on First Street in bungalow #2, just up the street from Rogers Beach. If you would like to get a feel for life in the colony please visit: http://www.lago-colony.com/LAGO%20CO...0DIRECTORY.htm
    Last edited by arubachuck; 12-03-2016 at 11:35 PM.

  7. #7
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    Chuck thank you!

    the colony link that you provided is fascinating.

    there is so much history and i can just close my eyes and imagine those wonder years.
    what fun for the families (especially the kids) growing up there.


    Quote Originally Posted by arubachuck View Post
    As a former employee of Esso Research & Engineering Company, I was assigned to a major construction project taking place at the Lago refinery in the early 1970’s. My family and I lived in Seroe Colorado, the “colony”, on First Street in bungalow #2, just up the street from Rogers Beach. If you would like to get a feel for life in the colony please visit: http://www.lago-colony.com/LAGO%20CO...0DIRECTORY.htm

  8. #8
    Senior Member cpjones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arubachuck View Post
    As a former employee of Esso Research & Engineering Company, I was assigned to a major construction project taking place at the Lago refinery in the early 1970’s. My family and I lived in Seroe Colorado, the “colony”, on First Street in bungalow #2, just up the street from Rogers Beach. If you would like to get a feel for life in the colony please visit: http://www.lago-colony.com/LAGO%20CO...0DIRECTORY.htm
    Wonderful link... thanks for sharing it.

  9. #9
    Super Moderator Jacki's Avatar
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    Great pictures and information! Thanks for sharing arubachuck!
    Jacki ~ loving Aruba from NJ

  10. #10
    Senior Member WaltVB's Avatar
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    Thanks for the link Chuck! What an interesting look at life on the island.

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