The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


April 23, 2018 edition–CGX’s drilling; St. Lucia’s solar; and Grenada’s gas.




Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. The IDB applauds Central America’s Regional Electricity Market.


Greater Antilles. The Dominican Republic has no electricity pact but suffers blackouts; Jamaica plans to buy back Petrojam’s shares; and Puma will modernize Puerto Rico’s service stations.


Lesser Antilles. St. Lucia bets on solar and wind; Grenada will develop its gas sector first; and the Bahamas is considering renewing an oil driller’s license.


South America’s Caribbean Coast. CGX will start drilling in Guyana by the end of 2018; Venezuela’s oil production hits a new low; and the US suggests Latin America isolate Venezuela.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in the BPL deal (English); Exxon’s favorable deal (English); and Castro’s successor (English).



Political Economy


The IMF had a busy week in Jamaica, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) concluded that Jamaica has started to follow fiscal discipline (English). Honduras’ economic performance was better than expected, with 4.8% GDP growth (English), and the Dominican Republic is expected to reach 2% growth (English).


Dominica and the BVI will focus on reconstruction. The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) launched a reconstruction project in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) funded with a US$65.3m loan (English). The World Bank provided US$65m for the reconstruction of Dominica (English) after Hurricane Maria’s damage, restoring agriculture, strengthening resilience, and rebuilding houses.


China and Barbados are getting to know each other better. A delegation from the China Chamber of International Commerce is becoming familiar with the way the island does business (English). Manufacturers and service providers in Barbados are interested in trading with China, especially exporting a range of goods.


The US suggested Latin America isolate Venezuela. US Vice President Mike Pence advised Latin American leaders to “isolate” Venezuela (and thereby its president) to usher in change for the people of Venezuela (English). Venezuela missed bond payment deadlines (English), and the government has lacked the ability to renegotiate.


The CAF will back T&T on fiscal sustainability. The Development Bank of Latin America granted a US$300m loan to Trinidad & Tobago to support public policy reforms (English) to strengthen fiscal sustainability. The goal is to reduce the impact of international energy prices on the nation’s economy.


Twenty-five people died at anti-government protests in Nicaragua. The Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) government pushed reforms to the national social security system, due to the financial crisis that affects the National Social Security Institute. Violent protests have spread across the country with 25 people killed during rioting (English).



Oil & Gas Upstream


Venezuela’s oil production hit the lowest in almost two decades. Venezuela reported production of 1.509 million b/d in March in OPEC’s Monthly Market report, a decrease of 77,000 b/d from the previous month (English). Crude output fell by 860,000 b/d from 2016 production.


Staatsolie is happy with its drilling prospects. Staatsolie plans to drill four wells with partners in 2018 and 2019. The company noted Guyana’s Turbot find was 25 miles away from the Suriname border, fueling optimism for a big find in Suriname as well (English).


CGX will start drilling in Guyana by the end of 2018. The Guyana government said the Canadian-based company will begin drilling on the Corentyne block at the end of 2018. CGX Energy has appointed a drilling engineer to design its offshore exploration well (English).


The Bahamas is considering renewing an oil driller’s license. The Bahamian government is giving “active consideration” to renewing an oil driller’s license to explore Bahamian waters (English). BPC’s license near the maritime border with Cuba expires on April 2018, having been extended for a year by the Christie administration.


Grenada will bet on its gas sector. Despite the discovery of oil and gas, the Energy Minister pledged the priority will be on gas in the first instance (English). The goal is to focus on gas to avoid the impact of oil on tourism.



Oil & Gas Downstream


The DR’s natural gas failed to stay cheap. Transportation companies that converted their vehicles to natural gas lost millions when the Dominican Republic government did not keep the fuel price under the promised RD$20 per cubic meter (Spanish). The National Center of Transportation Organizations transformed 14,589 vehicles and now natural gas has reached RD$32.5 per cubic meter.


Barbados’ LPG prices rose while gas and kerosene fell. Barbados’ consumers will pay less for gasoline and kerosene, from Bds$3.44 per liter and Bds$1.41, to Bds$3.31 and Bds$1.36, respectively (English). LPG prices will be adjusted to Bds$169.88 from Bds$168.69 per 100-pound cylinder.


Jamaica plans to buy back Petrojam’s shares. Jamaica plans to repurchase 49% shareholding in Petrojam Limited (English) from Venezuela. Venezuela owns almost half of Petrojam through PDV Caribe, a subsidiary of the state-owned PDVSA.



Renewables & Electricity


The World Bank supports Dominica’s geothermal plant. The World Bank will provide US$17m in funding for a Dominican geothermal plant (English). Dominica spent US$50m exploring geothermal potential and announced plans to establish a 7MW geothermal plant.


St. Lucia goes green. The St. Lucia Electricity Services Limited’s 3MW solar farm in La Tourney is now feeding the island’s grid (English). The island’s first wind farm is on track with the processing of land acquisition (English), concessions, and other contributions for the advancement of the project.


Puma will modernize Puerto Rico’s service stations. Puma Energy will renovate more than 230 service stations with an investment of more than US$80m (English), and supply 500 direct and indirect jobs. A new power failure left the island without service on April 18 (English).


The Dominican Republic has no electricity pact and blackouts. Six months after the conditions of the electricity pact were agreed to, businesses expect to find out when the talks will conclude (English). Meanwhile, blackouts have been felt in certain sectors (English) of the capital due to scheduled maintenance of some power plants.


The IDB applauds Central America’s Regional Electricity Market. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) hosted a meeting to move Central America’s energy integration efforts forward, strengthening the Regional Electricity Market (MER) (English). The IDB promoted the Central American Electricity Integration System (SIEPAC) as a driver of the isthmus’ development.



Lateral Thinking


The Great Barrier Reef is following the Caribbean’s disastrous steps. In the 80s, the Caribbean was full of golden coral for acres and acres, but coral has been destroyed in the last 20 years, decreasing to 3% in the Florida Keys (English). In the summer of 2016, the Great Barrier Reef was surrounded by dangerously hot water.



Quote of the Week


“But if these years have taught me anything it is this: you can never run away. Not ever. The only way out is in.”


-Junot Díaz (1968), Dominican-American writer. The quote is from The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, winner of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize.



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