The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


April 29, 2019 edition– ExxonMobil’s find; Repsol’s cancelled deal; and Puerto Rico’s renewables.



Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. Nicaragua’s industry pays more for power.


Greater Antilles. The Dominican Republic’s refinery went into maintenance; AES has renewables in sight for Puerto Rico; and Cuba cut back on power.


Lesser Antilles. Venezuela uses Trinidad and Tobago to bypass sanctions; BPL gets ready for the summer; and the Bahamas will adopt CARICOM’s new energy code.


South America’s Caribbean Coast. Iran waivers may help Venezuela; ExxonMobil makes yet another discovery in Guyana; and Repsol cancelled the swap deal for Venezuelan oil.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in Bermuda’s new energy plan (English); the future of the small-scale LNG market (English); and Haiti’s fuel crisis (English).



Political Economy


Jamaica and China are becoming BFFs. Jamaica’s Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister and the Chinese ambassador to Jamaica signed an agreement to join the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), expecting heavy investment in the country’s infrastructure and economy (English). Barbados, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, and Suriname have also signed the agreement.


St Kitts-Nevis complains about the harm of EU blacklisting. Although St Kitts and Nevis were not blacklisted by the European Union, Foreign Affairs Minister Mark Brantley pointed out that the list is affecting the region (English). Brantley questioned the EU’s method of determining which tax practices were harmful.


Puerto Rico is selling its energy policy to Taiwanese companies. Puerto Rico’s State Secretary explained the energy policy to Florida’s Taiwan Business Association and the Taiwanese Junior Chamber of Commerce of Miami to highlight Taiwanese companies’ opportunities to invest in the energy sector (English).


The IMF visited Jamaica… Jamaica’s budget is cutting the government’s primary surplus by half a percent of GDP to 6.5%. The IMF explained that further monetary easing is required to restore inflation to the 4%–6% target range (English).


…and Jamaica’s Development Bank will help the BPO sector. The Development Bank of Jamaica will offer financial support to companies in the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector (English). The goal is to boost the development of industries in the nation.



Oil & Gas Upstream


The US is considering secondary oil sanctions for Venezuela… The Trump administration is discussing secondary sanctions, which are expected to cause Venezuela’s production to fall to 500,000 barrels per day before the end of 2019 (English). Maduro was accused of using Rosneft to channel the flow of cash from oil sales to avoid US sanctions (Spanish) (English).


…but Iran waivers may help out. Although the US is still considering secondary sanctions on Venezuela, sanctions are expected to be delayed (English) as the country attempts to push Iranian crude and condensate exports to zero.


ExxonMobil makes yet another discovery in Guyana… ExxonMobil hit black gold again offshore Guyana, adding to the previous estimate of 5.5 billion barrels of oil-equivalent (English). The thirteenth discovery on the Stabroek block was made in the Turbot area.


…and Guyana’s discovery encouraged neighbors. The latest oil finding in Guyana pushed Suriname to speed up offshore exploration (English). Grenada and Trinidad consulted a Russian company to develop test wells.



Oil & Gas Downstream


Repsol cancelled its swaps for Venezuelan oil. The Spanish company suspended its swaps of refining products for crude with PDVSA (English). Repsol has been swapping fuel and waiving payments for crude, even after the US sanctions.


Venezuela uses Trinidad and Tobago to bypass sanctions. PDVSA used Trinidad and Tobago ports to avoid US sanctions. Ships are collecting oil in Venezuela, stopping at Trinidad and Tobago and sailing off again, and it is suspected that cargoes are being hidden (English).


The Dominican Republic’s refinery went into maintenance. The Dominican Petroleum Refinery announced its operations went into a shutdown for scheduled maintenance that will last 14 days (English). Fuel supply will continue on a regular basis.


An oil spill in Cuba affected a sugar mill area. An oil tank was damaged and produced a 74,000-gallon oil spill at a facility that distributes oil to sugar mills in the Matanzas province (English). Some 35,000 gallons of oil were recovered, and the Science, Technology, and the Environment Ministry said the spill did not impact the area’s environment.



Renewables & Electricity


AES has renewables in sight for Puerto Rico. AES is discussing with the executive director of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) how to convert the Guayama plant to use fuel other than coal to produce energy (English). The Guayama plant represents 15% of Puerto Rico’s energy production.


BPL gets ready for the summer. Bahamas Power & Light (BPL) secured 25MW of extra rental generation to respond to summer demand (English). BPL’s executive director said that “as many Bahamians as possible” will work on the installation of Clifton Pier’s new generation assets (English).


Cuba cut power supplies to save on fuel. Cuba ordered the power system to reduce power generation to cut fuel use, as the effects of US sanctions are being felt in the economic sector (English). More than 95% of Cuba’s electricity is generated by plants that use oil.


The Bahamas will adopt CARICOM’s new energy code. The Bahamas’ Bureau of Standards and Quality will adopt the CARICOM Regional Energy Efficiency Building Code (CREEBC) (English). Once the Bureau reviews the CREEBC to estimate which parts of the code to adopt, those recommendations will be passed on for Cabinet review.


The Dominican Republic’s power sector had a busy week. The CDEEE received offers from five parties to supply trial coal for Punta Catalina’s Unit 2 (English). The IDB pointed to the power infrastructure as the main limit to the country’s growth (English).


Nicaragua’s industry pays more for power. Nicaraguan companies pay between C$0.20 and C$0.22 per kWh while other Central American countries pay between C$0.11 and C$0.18 per kWh (Spanish). The Nicaraguan Industries Chamber said energy tariffs are affecting the country’s competitiveness.



Old School Social


Events in the world beyond your screen—go see and be seen!


The dialogue on Prospects for Energy Resource Development in Latin America will be held May 10 at Inter-American Dialogue, in Washington, DC.


The 62º Congreso Internacional de Agua Saneamiento, Ambiente y Energías Renovables is scheduled for May 29-31 at the Centro de Convenciones Hotel las Américas in Cartagena, Colombia.



Lateral Thinking


Goliath groupers in Cuba got protection. In 2018, the Cuban government passed a resolution to protect the goliath grouper, basing the decision on Fabián Pina Amargós’ research. The research estimated the population size, structure habitat use, and movement patterns, recommending banning the fishing of the species (English).



Quote of the Week


“Lo real maravilloso es puro presente.”


“The real marvelous thing is pure present.”



– Sergio Ramírez Mercado (1942), Nicaraguan writer and intellectual.



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