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  In 1920, oil was discovered off the Venezuelan coast which signaled a new era for Curaçao making it a global center even before globalization was a key component of the 20th Century. Curaçao's Royal Dutch Shell Refinery became the island's biggest business and employer. Immigrants from the surrounding Caribbean, South America and as far away as Asia headed to the new Caribbean Mecca.

America and its Allies back in World War II, found Curaçao and its refinery to be strategic enough, and established an American military base at Waterfort Arches, near Willemstad.

The refinery today is a sprawling expanse of metal pipes, chemical converters and concrete by Willemstad's bay, and is Curaçao's largest business and employer, with 1,030 workers and about 350 contract workers.

At an average processing level of 210.000 barrels a day and it contributes to an estimated US$120 million yearly to the local economy.

Built in 1915 by Shell and now leased by the local government to PDVSA (a state owned Venezuelan oil and gas company) for US$11 million yearly, the refinery produces gasoline, lubricants, jet fuel, propane and other products.

It also is the largest oil transshipment terminals in the Caribbean, with storage capacity of 17 million barrels and about 50 percent of its production is sold to Central America and the Caribbean, 15 percent is sold to the United States and Canada, 15 percent to South America and the rest within Curaçao and neighboring Bonaire.