Aruba Past and Present: From the Time of the Indians until Today

By Johan Hartog; J. A. Verleun | Go to book overview

EIGHTH CHAPTER
ARUBA'S PROSPERITY: THE OIL-INDUSTRY

AGRICULTURE, CATTLE-RAISING AND ALL OTHER EXPERIMENTS HAD left Aruba insignificant and poor, dependent as it was for all these pursuits on the rain. True, the phosphate-industry did bring some life to Sint Nicolaas, but only some hundreds of the hardly ten thousand inhabitants of the island had ever penetrated into that remote corner. Phosphate-mining was not a large-scale enterprise. The number of those engaged in it always remained inconsiderable.

With the oil-industry Aruba had already become acquainted about 1920. Sailing ships came to load sand and stones for the oil-company that settled on Curaçao at this time. It is supposed that through these shipments of sand the frog (dori), hitherto only occurring on Aruba and not on Curaçao, made its entry there, for this animal only appears in the rainy season on our island, hiding in the sand the rest of the time.

The transport of these sand-cargoes also underwent a change. On 7th August 1924 the German motorvessel Karibia entered Horses' Bay to load stones and sand for what was then named the Curaçaosche Petroleum Maatschappij (Curaçao Petroleum Company). She was the first motorpowered vessel to do so.


Captain Rodger on Aruba

On Thursday 14th August 1924 some people arrived here by the steamer Brion. Captain Robert Rodger, a Scot by birth, Captain William Clark and J. Oswald Boyd, had spent some time on Curaçao to get their bearings. There they had been introduced by the British shipping-firm of Andrew Weir & Co. to the then representative of the Dutch Royal West Indian Mail Service, Mr. W.R. Menkman. The British firm were in search of a port for the British Equatorial Oil Company where the crude oil from Maracaibo could be transhipped.

Lago Petroleum Corporation was the firm winning this crude oil. In those days the pilot Richard Johan Beaujon was working on Curaçao,

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