The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean

July 3, 2017 edition





Political Economy


Tensions in Venezuela are getting worse. A protester attacking an airbase perimeter was shot dead by the military police (English). Days later a helicopter attacked the Supreme Court and Interior Ministry. President Nicolas Maduro labeled it as a terrorist attack while protesters suggested it could have been staged (English).


Canada will bet on the Dominican Republic. Canadian ambassador Steve Coté pledged an increase in Canada’s investment, especially in the Dominican Republic’s Export and Investment Center (English). Previously, the ambassador led a visit by the Sunwing airline that showed an interest in investing.


The IMF suggested that Nicaraguan seniors should tighten their belts. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) advised Nicaragua to change its pension payment system which is suffocating the Nicaraguan Social Security Institute (Spanish). The suggestion is to end reduced pensions and substitute them for a non-contributory pension for 65-year-old people living in poverty.


The Bahamas will cut long waits for investors. The Bahamas government is planning to introduce a “Decision Timeline” to inform investors when they would receive a response (English). The Advanced Tracking System will also help identify the roadblocks in the system and monitor relevant agencies.



Oil & Gas Upstream


Apache failed in its hunt offshore Suriname. Apache Kolibrie did not find commercial hydrocarbons in Block 53, 80-miles off Suriname’s coast (English). The 3,509 square kilometer block is operated by several partners including Apache – with a 45% interest -, Cepsa, and Petronas.


Petrotrin focuses on enhanced oil recovery… Petrotrin’s chairman said the state-owned company pre-qualified 29 firms for enhance oil recovery projects (English). The goal is to boost oil production in onshore and offshore areas pointing to the need for Trinidad and Tobago to improve production levels (English).


…and T&T upstream companies signed the TTUOG MOU. Energy companies created the Trinidad and Tobago Upstream Operators Group (TTUOG) by signing a memorandum of Understanding (English). The group will collaborate to face common challenges and explore opportunities to develop the energy industry in Trinidad and Tobago.


Guyana is looking into lithium. Guyana completed the first phase of lithium exploration, aiming to locate rare earth minerals and lithium and to estimate the amount of deposits that can be developed profitably (English). The Ministry of Natural Resources ensured Guyana is working on Lithium mines.



Oil & Gas Downstream


Trinidad and Tobago aims to produce ULSD. Petrotrin’s president announced a push for clean fuels with the construction of an ultra-low-sulphur diesel (ULSD) plant (English). The project will be finished by 2020, the year in which the Marine Pollution Convention will require low sulphur fuels for marine transport.


Natural gas prices dropped 35% in 2016 in Trinidad and Tobago. Trinidad & Tobago experienced a 35% decline in natural gas prices in 2016 from 2015 (English). In 2016, BP reported US$1.72 per MMscf while EOG Resources offered US$1.88 per MMscf, both well below the US$2.52 Henry Hub price benchmark.


DR gasoline and diesel prices dropped for the fifth consecutive week. After five weeks, gasoline and diesel prices announced by the Industry and Commerce Ministry were reduced again. The premium gasoline price was cut by RD$4.00 per gallon while regular gasoline will cost RD$2.50 less (English) (Spanish).



Renewables & Electricity


The Dominican Republic wagers on the sun… The Energy and Mines Ministry is working on a regulation to attract private renewable energy investment (English). With four new solar parks and Monte Plata Solar, the Dominican Republic will reach 162MW in solar energy.


…and Cienfuegos joined the solar power effort. The Empresa Eléctrica in Cienfuegos is planning to add 70MW of solar power by 2030 (Spanish). The director of Investments referred also to the progress in the Yaguaramas solar park with 5MW capacity.


Coopelesca’s pricy hydroplant is drying up… In Costa Rica, Coopelesca paid US$35.3m in 2014 for a hydroelectric plant in Ciudad Quesada which has reduced production since mid-2016 and in 2017 reports historical minimum production (Spanish). The Aguas Zarcas plant’s income in 2016 was C$1.971m, a 43% decline from 2015.


…and the El Porvenir sub-station exploded. An explosion stopped service at Costa Rica’s El Porvenir sub-station affecting 500,000 CNFL consumers (Spanish). The reason of the explosion is likely an overload in the wiring and posts close to the station.


The Caribbean is developing an energy-efficiency strategy. The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) announced the support of the European Union to develop an energy efficiency strategy in the next two years (English). The strategy will consider key productive sectors, including agriculture, services, the public sector, and tourism.


Panama suffered an electric overload. For the third time, a general blackout occurred due to a fault in the system due to an energy overload (Spanish). The fault happened when maintenance work was developed in one of the four transmission grid circuits from El Coco, in Coclé.



Lateral Thinking


New fish found while being eaten. Scientists in a submarine in the Caribbean Sea recorded the lionfish’s attack on a new unnamed species (English). The fish was named Palatogobius incendius. Meanwhile, lionfish have invaded the Caribbean and the Atlantic Ocean, threatening 21 known fish species with extinction.



Quote of the Week


“La máxima obra propuesta al ser humano es la de forjarse un destino.”


“The maximum deed proposed to a human being is to carve out a destiny.”


-Alejo Carpentier (1904-1980), Cuban writer




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