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Purely Dominica

Purely Dominica

What is your opinion on Oil Refinery?

The Sun Newspaper publish in their latest issue of the Newspaper the opinion of the former president of the Waitukubuli Ecological Foundation, Mr. Bernard Wiltshire on the whole issue of an oil refinery in Dominica.

If we allow Mr. Chaves to put an oil refinery in Dominica we will at one stroke destroy any capacity we might have to take advantage of the fact that we have something that gives us comparative advantage over others – our natural assets”, – Wiltshire said “Lose that and you are totally dependant on Mr. Chavez.

Asked whether Dominica could have its cake and it it, Wiltshire laughs at the concept – that Dominica can continue to promote itself as the Nature Isle and built an oil refinery.

That is not true. You cannot do it”, he said. “The reason why you cannot do it is that you have to carry credibility if you really want to promote Dominica as the Nature Isle. It must be credible.

Wiltshire argues that the building of an oil refinery in Dominica is not about economics because, he says, the proposed 10 000 barrels – a – day refinery will not be economical. He recalls that Antigua closed down 33,000 barrels –a –day refinery because it was losing money.

And, according to Wiltshire, the job creation argument also does not make sense either because instead of creating jobs, Wiltshire said, the oil refinery will destroy jobs, especially in the tourism industry.

We were told by their own experts (Venezuela’s) that they have an oil refinery in Venezuela refining 15,000 barrels a day and you know how many people are employed there? Five-five.

In respect to Mr. Wiltshire opinion, Dominica Weekly would like ask the Government Ten questions, which Fall Outside the Scope of the Environmental Impact Assessment:

1.Have any Dominicans been sent for training to gain skills needed to work at the Oil Refinery? How many jobs at the refinery will be taken by Dominicans?

An oil refinery is a modern high-tech enterprise, controlled by a team of experienced professionals. A rational owner would only entrust this kind of manufacture to fully trained, experienced people. That means, from about 400 open jobs, at least half can be trusted only to trained, experienced professionals. Those professionals will be invited from other countries. Dominica will have to conclude a treaty on terms to accommodate them. It will be probably be practically impossible to dismiss them. Thus, Dominicans and perhaps even their children probably won’t get the best, most highly paid jobs until the foreign specialists leave. Dominicans may get these jobs only if they’re trained and serve internships well in advance to gain the requisite experience. What provisions are being made for Dominicans to at least eventually staff the refinery?

2.Who’ll buy the bunker fuel produced as a refinery by-product? There is not a good world market for that fuel. It’s harder to sell than bananas, pineapples or coffee.

Bunker fuel is only used for ships. The market for it is already formed, and it’s difficult for a new player to enter. If forward contracts aren’t in place when the refinery starts, this liquid will simply be discharged into the environment. Does the proposed refinery have an advanced bunker fuel contract in place?

The market doesn’t take excess bunker fuel. The choice is to stop the factory or discharge it – it will be too late to protest. Discharged fuel is not like a superfluous banana, which will rot and give back fertilizers. Fuel oil is long-term pollutant deadly to nature. Read More

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1 Comment »

Comment by Christian Volney
2008-08-06 13:25:13

These are all very valuable questions and concerns regarding the pending Oil Refinery proposal. Unlike most of the opponents to this proposal, I believe in due process and the full environmental impact assessment on the feasibility in combination with the location and impact study.
In Dominica we have a tendency to arbitrarily dismiss opportunities based on biased and outdated information because of the environmental lobby. I would be the first to lobby against the Refinery once the EPA or equivalent of releases its EIA on this proposal. What I am against is the fear-mongering displayed by the opponents and there blatant disregard for due process and the education of our people.
We need to tell both sides of a story when we embark on an assessment. I am not saying that the Oil Refinery is good for Dominica, for that matter it is in conflict with the eco theme we have promoted over the last 20 years. We need to base our understandings, hence our decisions on fact and not hearsay or outdated information. Most of what I have read to date is based on studies in other parts of the world and based on outdates refineries. This technology has evolved since and we owe it to ourselves to await the environmental impact assessment study to be released before we jump to conclusions. If anything, we will learn to appreciate the meaning of due process and the impact it has on our understanding, hence decision. We cannot continue to base our decisions on outdated information being spread by environmentalist and there lobby, we need to grow up and base it on our understanding of the data once it s findings have been made available.
I would bet, that at the end of the day, we will still dismiss this intent, but at least it will be based on fact of the day, not rumors of the past.
I rest my case.
Christian Volney.

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