The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


April 27, 2020 edition–Panamá’s renewables; Chevron’s waiver cancellation; and the Dominican Republic’s storage needs.



Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. Panamá got funding to boost renewables; Nicaragua will not lower its power tariffs; and Guatemala’s budget was hit by COVID-19 and fuel prices.


Greater Antilles / Northern Islands. The Bahamas Petroleum Company hopes for an extension; the Dominican Republic needs more storage to enjoy cheap oil; and Jamaica’s electricity load has changed with the lockdown.


Lesser Antilles / Southern Islands. Heritage Petroleum has a plan to face the crisis; St Kitts will invest in agriculture and renewables; and Trinidad & Tobago is keeping an eye on natural gas.


South America’s Caribbean Coast. Chevron was asked to end oil production in Venezuela; Colombia’s oil production is expected to drop 9%; and Colombia’s oil industry asks for the government’s help.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in ExxonMobil’s plans in Guyana (Platts – English); Guyana’s tax relief measures (CBC – English); and the Dominican Republic’s plan for its economy (Dominican Today – English).



Government & NGO


S&P forecasted a 16% contraction in the Bahamas. Standard & Poor’s expects the Bahamian economy to contract by 16% this year and cut the country’s sovereign rating from BB+ to BB due to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic (Tribune 242 – English).


The IMF visited Colombia… The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasted Colombia’s GDP to contract 2.4% in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The IMF expects Colombia to grow by 3.5% over the medium term in 2021, supported by domestic demand growth drivers (IMF – English).


…and okayed Haiti’s emergency financing. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved US$111.6m in emergency financing to help Haiti face the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic (IMF – English). Haiti’s government announced measures to support workers and households by paying salaries and providing food and cash transfers.


The World Bank will help Dominica and St Vincent and the Grenadines. The World Bank provided US$4.5m to St Vincent and the Grenadines to strengthen the capacity of their health systems and  emergency response against COVID-19 (World Bank – English). The World Bank provided US$6.6m immediate funding for Dominica’s emergency response (World Bank – English).



Oil & Gas Upstream


Chevron was asked to end oil production in Venezuela. The Trump administration ordered Chevron to halt oil production in Venezuela by December 1 (CNN – English) (El Periódico – Spanish). The goal is to increase the pressure on President Nicolás Maduro’s regime.


The Bahamas Petroleum Company hopes for an extension. The Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) said that the COVID-19 pandemic forced the company to postpone the start date for its first exploratory well to October 2020 (Tribune 242 – English). The BPC will ask for a license extension for a period equivalent to the pandemic’s duration.


Colombia’s oil production is expected to drop 9%. The Colombian Finance Corporation (Corficolombiana) estimates that the fall in oil prices will reduce oil production in the country by 9%, to levels close to 800,000 barrels per day by the end of 2020 (Valora Analitik – Spanish).


Heritage Petroleum has a plan to face the crisis. The company has re-evaluated activity for the year, focusing on optimizing activity and project portfolios. Heritage now produces 1.2 million barrels of oil per month and will use its storage to wait as the oil market improves (Energy Now – English).


TPHL and BPTT are helping out communities. BPTT has created a US$1m COVID-19 response fund accessible to non-governmental and community-based organizations (Energy Now – English). TPHL has handed over the Augustus Long Hospital and Hostel to the Ministry of Health to fight the COVID-19 pandemic (Energy Now – English).



Liquid Fuels Mid-Downstream


The COVID-19 lockdown cost gas station jobs in the Bahamas. Some gas stations have temporarily laid off workers due to the reduction in opening hours to 6 am to 1 pm from previous 24/7 operations due to the COVID-19 lockdown (Tribune 242 – English).


Colombia’s oil industry asks for the government’s help. The Colombian Petroleum Association (ACP) issued an appeal to Colombia’s national government to review the regulation that set crude oil pipeline transportation rates by pipeline (Finance Colombia – English). The transportation rates represent 45% of the cost per barrel.


Trinidad & Tobago are checking on oil prices. The Caribbean nation’s government asked citizens to remain calm despite the oil price crisis and the possible loss of billions of dollars in revenue (Jamaica Gleaner – English). The upturn in prices will depend on “developed countries’ economies getting back to a state of normality.”


The Dominican Republic needs more storage to enjoy cheap oil. Because of its limited storage capacity, the Dominican Republic cannot take advantage of the current oil prices. The refinery has a capacity of 900,000 barrels, and it is full because it cannot process crude oil (Dominican Today – English).


Guatemala’s budget was hit by COVID-19 and fuel prices. In March, the Central American country collected less in tax than expected due to the postponement in the annual tax return delivery due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the fall in oil prices (El Periódico – Spanish).



Natural Gas Mid-Downstream & LNG


New Fortress Energy helped out vulnerable families and healthcare workers. New Fortress Energy provided care packages for vulnerable families in the Old Harbor Bay and the Hayes refinery communities for three months (Jamaica Star – English). The company has also donated care packages to healthcare workers responding to the COVID-19 crisis.


Colombia paid its natural gas subsidy bill. The Mines and Energy Ministry and the Finance Ministry paid COL$897bn to 63 companies in the energy sector to cover the subsidies for natural gas supply (Petroguía – Spanish). The government covered the pending payments from 2019.


Trinidad & Tobago is keeping an eye on natural gas. Although oil prices are a cause of concern, natural gas prices remain stable (Loop Trinidad & Tobago – English). Natural gas represents two thirds of the government’s energy sector revenue.



Electric Power & Renewables


Panamá got funding to boost renewables. The International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank group, signed a loan with Panamá’s central bank to promote the development of eco buildings and solar energy projects in the country’s private sector (PV Magazine – Spanish).


Thanks to low oil prices, the Dominican Republic and Bermuda will pay less for electricity. The cost of power generation in the Dominican Republic fell by 46% due to the fall in oil prices (Diario Libre – Spanish). In Bermuda, Belco customers may enjoy record low crude oil prices through low power tariffs (Royal Gazette – English).


Jamaica’s electricity demand has changed with the lockdown… Jamaica’s utility found that there has been a 2.5% decrease in electricity demand in March while residential demand went up 3% due to the COVID-19 lockdown (New Energy Events – English). Many citizens are spending more time at home, thereby increasing home demand between 5% and 50%.


…and Cuba noticed the same pattern. Due to record-breaking temperatures and the COVID-19 lockdown, in the first weeks of April, Cuban power consumers are using amounts of electricity above what is consumed during the summer (New Energy Events – English) (Escambray – Spanish). The government encouraged energy savings among the population.


Nicaragua will not lower its power tariffs. While both Nicaraguan citizens and business chambers asked for a reduction in power tariffs, the president of the Chamber of Energy said that the discount is not possible as the distribution company needs to be protected from bankruptcy (La Prensa – Spanish).


St Kitts will invest in agriculture and renewables. During the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, former St Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Denzil L. Douglas pledged that the NextGen SKN Labor administration will invest heavily in the agricultural sector, ecotourism, and renewable energy technologies (St Lucia News Online – English).



Old School Social Goes Viral


(Editor’s note: For the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak, this section will refocus on announcements of event delays or cancellations, events that are moved online, and scheduled webinars and public conference calls. Stay safe!)


The Latam Mobility Summit will be held June 10-11 at Orquideorama, Botanical Garden, in Medellín.


The South America Energy Series is scheduled for June 20 at JW Marriott in Bogotá.


The SPE Latin American and Caribbean Petroleum Engineering Conference was rescheduled to July 28-30 at the Ágora Convention Center in Bogotá.



Lateral Thinking


The IDB okayed funding for Central America and the Dominican Republic. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) will make available nearly US$1.7 billion in additional funding to the countries of Central America and the Dominican Republic to fight the COVID-19 pandemic (IDB – English).



Quote of the Week


“When history is written as it ought to be written, it is the moderation and long patience of the masses at which men will wonder, not their ferocity.”



– C. L. R. James (1901-1989) Trinidadian historian and journalist.


We hope you have a productive week. Please send any news, comments, or uses for funding to fight COVID-19 to


Tell your friends and colleagues about the Weekly Brief! They can sign up for a free one-month trial here.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]