University of Texas, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

A Guide to the Lago Colony (Aruba) Archives, 1924-2012

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Lago Colony
Title: Lago Colony (Aruba) Archives
Dates: 1924-2012
Accession No.: 2006-214; 2007-121; 2007-122; 2007-168; 2007-172; 2007-230; 2007-249; 2008-054; 2008-057; 2008-288; 2009-253; 2010-074; 2010-188; 2010-332; 2011-285; 2011-373; 2012-084; 2012-114; 2012-165; 2013-004; 2013-013; 2013-014; 2013-096; 2013-097; 2013-234; 2013-251; 2014-184; 2014-185
Extent: 9 ft., 2.5 in.
Language: The majority of the collection is in English, but there is a minority of materials written in Dutch and Papiamento, the official languages of Aruba.
Repository: Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin

Historical Note

Lago Colony was a community on the eastern end of Aruba, a Dutch island located roughly 17 miles north of Venezuela, in an area now called Seroe Colorado. The colony served, for the most part, as a company town for Lago Oil & Transport Company, Ltd., which owned and operated a refinery on the island. Lago Oil was a subsidiary of Standard Oil Company (New Jersey), later known as Exxon Corporation.

At its peak, Lago Colony included about 700 homes for employees and their families and included amenities familiar to other communities, such as a school, a hospital, a church, and a variety of social and recreational opportunities. Residents of the colony were mostly Americans. Other nationalities represented were Dutch, Danish, Spanish, English, Irish and Scottish.

The refinery, which began operating in 1924 as a trans-shipping facility for crude oil from Lake Maracaibo, was at one time the largest refinery complex in the world. The facility remained in operation until 1985 when Exxon moved to shut down and dismantle the refinery and Lago Colony. Parts of the facility were sold to the Aruban government and later to Coastal Petroleum. Though a much smaller operation today, Valero Energy Corporation now operates the refinery.


Lago Colony and Lago Refinery, Aruba. Retrieved from

Scope and Contents

The Lago Colony (Aruba) Collection, 1924-2012, contains 9 linear feet of material documenting both the history and operation of the Lago Oil and Transport Co. refinery and the Lago Colony on Aruba in the Netherlands Antilles. Company records include memoranda, agreements, trade union materials, financial statements, stock share ledgers, contracts, tax claims, handbooks, employee benefit plans, business correspondence and directories. Material relating to the social, educational, and recreational pursuits of colony residents and includes school annuals and literary magazines, newspapers and clippings, programs for community events and activities, photographic prints and albums, and scrapbooks. Additionally, there are personal family records of former colony residents consisting primarily of photographs and family histories. Material dating after the colony ceased relates to former residents’ work to stay connected through reunions, the Lago Colony web site and other means.

Of particular note is material related to Aruba’s history, culture and tourism and the impact of World War II on the island and the colony.

The creation and continuing growth of the archives represents the efforts and contributions of a number of former residents of the Lago Colony, including Dan Jensen, Frank Binetti, Ginger Bassett, Walter Beyer, Ray Burson, Beverly Couch, Brenda Engle, Tina Evers, Peter Henriksen, Bobby Lewis, Billy Moyer, Stan Norcom, Janet Opdyke, Robert Pearson, Robert Rynalski, Bob Schlageter, Mary Spitzer, Joyce Stewart, Charles Stuart, Homer Waits, Gerald Barnes, Russell Carrell, Jane Getty, and Tom Myers and others. Most of the records of Lago Oil and Transport Company, Ltd. were donated to the Briscoe Center by Henri Coffi, who was the last employee to leave the refinery when it was shut down.

The collection is arranged in three series: Lago Oil and Transport Company, Lago Colony Community, and Personal/Family Papers.



The papers are arranged in three series:
  • I. Lago Oil and Transport Company, Ltd., 1924-1999
  • II. Community, 1929-2012
  • III. Personal/Family Papers, 1932-2012


Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

Index Terms

Subjects (Organizations)
Lago Oil and Transport Company.
Standard Oil Company.
Company towns -- Aruba.
Petroleum industry and trade -- Aruba.
Netherlands Antilles.

Related Material

See also ExxonMobil Historical Collection, 1790-2004.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Lago Colony (Aruba) Archives, 1924-2010, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Mat Darby, 2006-2011. Additions were processed by Amanda McLeod, Michael Rodney, and Amy Sherwood, 2014

Detailed Description of the Papers


I. Lago Oil and Transport Company, Ltd. 1924-1999.

History of Lago Oil and Transport and Lago Company
2.207/M22 History of Operations, 1929-1985.
History of the Lago Oil and Transport Company, Ltd. Training Division, 1948.
"This is Lago" History and Guidebook (two copies), 1949.
History of Aruba, 1950.
25 Years of Refining at Lago (two copies), 1954.
Lago Highlights in 1955
Corporate History of Creole Petroleum Corporation, 1965.
Red Crown Gasoline Standard Oil employee narrative, 1975.
History of Lago's Corporate Development, 1980.
History of Lago's Corporate Development, 1980.
"The Lago Refinery" history, after 1980.
Operating Highlights, 1981.
Esso Inter-America Inc. Documents: History of Lago, Current Situation. Relationship with Venezuela, 1984.
Early Overview: 1925-1974 1984.
Description of Lago Facilities, undated.
The Early Years of Lago, undated.
Promer Anjanan di Lago, undated.
Where did the Aruban Indians come from?, undated.
Correspondence and Letters
Letter to employee with enclosed 50th anniversary of oil industry brochure and stamps, 1974/08/12.
Company letter to employees announcing termination in Aruba, 1984/10/31.
Letters to Lt. Governor Mr. P. Bislip, 1984/12/18-20.
Letter to Her Excellency Maria Loberia Peters, Prime Minister, Netherlands Antilles, Willemstad, Curaçao, 1984/12/19.
Translation: Lago announcement to terminate operations, 1985.
Outline for Response to Feb 18 - Letter of Mr. Monzon, Re: Expropriation of Seroe Colorado, 1991.
Employee Benefit Information
Benefit Plans
Survivor Benefit Plan, 1950.
Vacation Savings Plan and Basic Survivor Insurance for Overseas Employees and Annuitants, 1956.
History and Development of Staff and Regular Employee Benefits Plan (Two copies), 1960 .
Lago Benefit Plans National Employees, 1977.
Survey of Benefit Plans, Programs and Practices, 1982.
Annuitant Information, 1984.
Retirement Plans
Lago Thrift Foundation, Aruba, Curaçao, Financial Report, January 1, 1939 - September 30, 1939.
Lago Thrift Foundation, Aruba, Curaçao, Financial Report, 1951.
Lago Thrift Foundation, Aruba, Curaçao, Financial Report, 1952.
2.207/M23 Lago Thrift Foundation, Annual Reports, 1953-1964.
Thrift Plan and Retirement Plan Booklet, 1956/05/01.
Administrative Manual, Lago Retirement Plan, 1958.
Lago Thrift Foundation, Annual Reports, 1976.
Termination Benefits
Esso Lago Aruba Exxon: Purpose of Group Sessions, Review of Termination Benefits, 1984-85.
Employee Termination Conditions with accompanying Coffi letter, 1985/02/27.
Environmental Reports
Crude and Crude Equivalent-Throughput, Purchases and Allowance to Lago, 1937-1983.
Water Importation Costs, Letters and Reports, 1949-1988.
Study to Determine the Feasibility of making Boca Grandi a public swimming beach, December, 1980.
Refinery Oil Loss Performance Charts, 1984.
Lago Phase II: Environmental Assessment Program Report, 1985-1986.
Lago Phase II: Environmental Assessment Program Report, Appendix A‑F, Hydrogen Recovery and Environmental Sampling, Well Logs. Prepared by EEl Engineering Enterprises, Inc., 1985-1986.
2.207/M14 Lago Phase II: Environmental Assessment Program Report, Appendix G, Hydrogen Recovery and Environmental Sampling, Well Logs. Prepared by EEl Engineering Enterprises, Inc., 1985-1986.
Marine Department Annual Reports,
Annual Report, 1953.
Annual Report, 1957.
Annual Report, 1959.
Refinery Clean-Up Documents
Caliche Pits Technical Documents Booklet, 1975-1999.
Lago Environmental Accomplishments report, 1984-1990.
Lago Aruba Refinery Environmental Cleanup Program Status, 1986.
Report on Aruban reefs and Refinery location, 1986.
Marine Biological Impact of Lago Oil and Transport Company, 1987/04/10.
Caliche Pit Information, 1987-1992.
Underground Oil Seroe Colorado, 1988.
Biomedical Sciences Air Monitoring reports, 1988, 1991/08/26.
Pitch Pile Revised Proposal, 1989.
Legal letters/documents relating to the Calichi Pits and environmental law, 1990, 1995.
San Nicholas Harbor reports, 1991/04.
Lago Cleanup Letter-Dismantlement, 1990/10/26.
Aruba vs. Lago letter to Mr. Henri Coffi regarding Caliche Pit status, 1991.
Underground Oil Assessment, 1992.
Capping of the Caliche Pits, 1995.
Lago Environmental: Summary of the Planning and Execution of Environmental Remediation Work by Lago, 1995.
Proposal for Oil Recovery Operation, undated.
Financial and Tax Records
2.207/M71 Economic Outlooks
Question and Answer about Lago Refinery Viability 1977 .
Netherlands Antilles Economic Environment Historical Perspective/Outlook 1979.
Prospectus of the Aruba Economy without Lago 1981.
Aruba Business Climate 1987-1988.
Financial Records
Statement 1944/06/30.
Statement 1944/12/31.
Financial Information and Statistics 1945-1954.
Financial and Operating Statistics 1960-1964.
Aruba Refinery Cost Review 1979-1981.
An Independent Review of the 1982 Lago Cost Basis, Purvin & Gertz, Inc. 1982/04.
Lago Loss on Refinery Shutdown 1985-1993.
Stocks Information
Ordinary and Preference Stock 1924/12-1934/06.
Ordinary Shares without Par Value 1939/12-1970/07.
"Certificates "
Share Stock Certificates and related letters, 1939/12-1970/07
Tax Information
Netherlands Antillean Ordinance on Profit Tax, 1940
Inventory of Taxes of the Colony and Facilities, 1960-1980
Taxable Income Tables, 1983.
Ground and Use Tax 1986 - Bungalows, 1986
Lago Company Property 1950.
Copies of Leases and Documents covering property and ground leases 1988.
Land owned by Lago on the island of Aruba
Lago Refinery Training Division - Vocational School circa 1949.
Vocational School Class photographs 1945-1951 .
Graduation Programs
Lago Scholarship Foundation
Lago Scholarship Foundation, Committee Meeting 1983/12/23.
Lago Scholarship Foundation, Audits 1983/01/10.
Lago Scholarship Foundation, Minutes of Meeting 1984/01/31.
Aruba Road Map, Esso Petrolera, S.A., 1963, 1976, 1991.
Lago Concession Area Maps, Sewer Layout, 1969.
Refinery and Residential Area Map (2 copies), 1970.
Lago Refinery Plot Plan, 1973.
Drinking Water Lines Schematic, Lago Colony Area, 1985.
Lago Colony Water Resources Map, 1988.
Illustration of Lago leased, owned and relinquished lands, 1991/01/01.
Revised Refinery and Residential Maps (2 copies), 1978.
Flow Diagram Refinery Sewer Systems, 1974/11/01.
Survey Lago Pitch Pile Sections, 1985/-1.
Refinery and Residential Map belonging to M.B. d.d., June 7, 1990, 1970 1970, 1990/06/07.
Colony map, 1954 – Stan Norcom 1959.
[3 tiffs on DVD].
Aruba Maps undated.
[2 DVDs; 53 jpgs, tiffs, bmps and pdfs].
Aruba Gold Mining Co., circa 1885.
Bungalow directory, 1958.
Department of Navy, 1956.
[2 maps].
Dutch 8-panel matrix
Esso road map, 1976.
Lago Refinery and residential area, undated.
Refinery and Colony Area, 1954, 1958.
[2 maps].
Seroe Colorado Residential, 1958.
Topographic, undated.
van Duin calendar paintings, undated.
[6 maps].
Geological map, 1960.
Lago road map, 1963, undated.
[2 maps].
Memoranda and Contracts
2.207/M24 Memorandum of Agreement for Installation of Public Address System at Lago Sport Park, 1960/03/03
Memorandum of Agreement for Erection of Foundation Ring for Tank 723, 1962
Agreement: Reopening Aruba Refinery (Lago), 1987
Agreement on Sale of Tanks, 1988
Lago Dismantlement Contract, 1989-1990
Statement by S. R. Bengston, Lago President, on the occasion of signing the final agreement with Aruba, 1992/04/10
Addendum No. 2, Dismantling Agreement and accompanying letter from Steve Bengtson, April 10, 1992
(2 copies)
Aruba Economic Memorandum, Aruba Investment Bank N.V., 1992
Dismantling of Refinery Meeting, 1994
Newspapers and Clippings
2.207/M72 Aruba Esso News
Aruba Esso News Article: The Largest Cave in the Antilles, 1955/08/27
Advertisement, The New York Times, The Netherlands Antilles, April 4, 1971/04/04
Other Dismantlement and Phase-Out Stage
2.207/M72 Lago Shutdown Plan: Staff Review, 1984/12/03
Operations-Major Events, 1985/01/19
Government Meetings, 1985
Translation: Lago announcement to terminate operations, 1985
Translation: Termination letter, 1985/01/25
Translation: response to closing, 1985/06/17
Minutes of Meetings between Aruba and ECCA - Lago, 1985/01
Chronology of Events: Negotiations Between Lago and Aruba, 1985-1986
Summaries of meetings between Lago and Aruba Government Negotiating Teams regarding topics related to closing of the refinery, 1985-1986
Seroe Colorado Community, Aruba, Phase Out Stage, 1986
Negotiations of the Settlement for closing the refinery, 1987
Negotiations with Aruba, 1989
Lago-Aruba Negotiations, 1990/03/07-08/23
November 1, 1990 Meeting with Minister H. Croes,
(2 copies)
Henri Coffi's correspondence Coffi relating to final phase-out of Lago refinery, 1992-1993
Presentations and Talks
2.207/M72 Talk given to Mssrs. Monroe, O'Loughlin and Doores, 1980/01/11
Presentation to C. C. Garvin, Coral Gables, Florida, 1980/02/11
Aruba emerges from the valley: Address by Henk Timmer to the group of Dutch newspapermen in Aruba, February 17, 1987/02/17
Invocation: Kiwanis Thanksgiving message by Henri Coffi, 1996/11/27
Press Releases
2.207/M25 For the Press: Transfer of Lago to Aruba, 1985
Press Release: Aruba Golf Club - 45 years of existence, 1986/01/03
For the Press: “Drowning,” 1986
For the Press: "Drowning", 1987
For the Press: Negotiations with Aruban government, 1987/09
Press Release: Lago Signs Dismantlement Contract, 1988/11/17
Press Release requesting the newspaper Corant print a retraction, 1989/05/31
For the Press: Lago Regrets Government’s Rejection of Its Proposal, 1990/09/27
For the Press: Theft and Damage to Reef Berths, undated
2.207/M25 Caribbean Careers, 1952
An Introduction to Lago Public Relations Department, 1957
Lago Careers in the Caribbean, 1958
Lago Oil and Transport Calendar, 1960
Lago Telephone Directory, 1965, 1984
Lago Information Handbook, 1973
Lago Facilities Capabilities, 1976
Lago: Information for Professional Graduates, 1980
Business Philosophy (Filosofia di Negoshi), 1981
Diario Article, 1990/05/31
LAGO (Overview), undated
Lago in Exxon, Lago Organization, Lago Operations, Netherlands Antilles Government, undated
Info-T.B.S. Study, Lago Facts Book, undated
Your Visit to Lago, undated
2.207/M28 Bungalow directory, 1956, 1962
2.207/M17 Telephone & Bungalow Directory, 1948
Bungalow directory, 1958
Regulations and Policies
2.207/M26 Safety and Security Regulations for Contractors, PR/IR Safety Section, 1969
Lago Fire Fighter Manual, 1975
General Conditions of Agreement, for contractors, 1976
Safety and Security Regulations for Contractors Operations Department, 1984
Esso Incident Prevention System Manual, 1996/05
Current Policies on Business Practices, undated
Royal Visits
2.207/M28 Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld’s Visit, 1950
Queen Juliana of the Netherland’s Visit, 1955
2.207/M21 Royal Visit: A pictorial review of The Netherlands reigning monarch’s visit to Aruba, N. A., October 21, 22, 23, 1950, 1950
[donated by Francis (Teet) Mingus]
Souvenir Album: A pictorial review of The Netherlands reigning monarch’s visit to Aruba, N. A., October 21, 22, 23, 1950, 1950
Trade Unions
2.207/M26 Collective Working Agreements
Collective Working Agreement between Independent Oil Workers Union of Aruba and Lago Oil and Transport Company, 1964
Collective Working Agreement between Independent Oil Workers Union of Aruba and Lago Oil and Transport Company, 1976
Collective Working Agreement between Independent Oil Workers Union of Aruba and Lago Oil and Transport Company, 1983
Collective Working Agreement between Federacion Di Trahadornan, Arubano and Esso Petrolera, S.A., 1993
Esso Agreement and Working Rules for all Non-Officer Employees of the Lake Tanker Fleet, undated
Response to 11/15/84 Union Letter, 1984
2.207/M78a Access badge, Edwin M. Harris, undated
2.207/M26 Aruba Refinery License Plate, Esso 3207, undated
2.207/M78a Silver belt buckle, 20 years of service, Lago, undated
ouvenir coin, Aruba, 1934/07


II. Community, 1924-2012

This portion of the Collection is currently being processed. Please contact the Briscoe Center for more information.


III. Personal and Family papers, 1932-2012

This portion of the Collection is currently being processed. Please contact the Briscoe Center for more information.