The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


April 9, 2018 edition–Cuba’s oil drilling; Venezuela’s declining oil exports; and Ecorus’ solar tender win.




Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. Guatemala sold power to El Salvador; Fitch warned Costa Rica’s new government; and the IMF advised El Salvador on taxes.


Greater Antilles. Cuba will drill deeper in Varadero; an earthquake shook Haiti; and a Jamaican landowner offered to sell land with oil exploration potential.


Lesser Antilles. Barbados will start drilling soon; Ecorus won the Saba solar tender; and Trinidad & Tobago’s NGC and CNC finally reached an agreement.


South America’s Caribbean Coast. Guyana is protecting the shore with oil spill equipment; Venezuelan oil’s share of the Gulf refineries declined; and ExxonMobil’s contract offers Guyana options for future deals.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in the East End power plant (English); PDVSA maintenance upgrade (English); and ENI’s interest in Guyana (English).



Political Economy


The IMF congratulated Antigua and Barbuda and advised El Salvador. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) wrote to the country’s Prime Minister to congratulate him on the recovery of the Antigua and Barbuda economy (English) from its extended crisis. The IMF suggested El Salvador modify and harden its fiscal responsibility law (Spanish).


Jamaica expanded the state of emergency. The Senate approved the extension of the State of Public Emergency in certain parts of St. Catherine parish (English) until July 3. The Senate’s approval followed a similar decision taken by the House of Representatives on March 27.


Haiti suffered a 4.6 magnitude earthquake. A 4.6 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti, located 108.4km south of Belle Anse and 111.8km southeast of Marigot (English). The country has not completely recovered from the 7.0 magnitude earthquake suffered in 2010.


Fitch warned Costa Rica of uncertainty. The international rating agency said that Costa Rica still faces uncertainty and a strong political challenge to solve its tax deficit (Spanish) after the presidential elections. Fitch is worried about the fragmented Congress and disagreement regarding the order and scale of the reforms.


El Salvador grew more than expected. The country’s new methodology to measure GDP showed that El Salvador grew at a faster pace than was estimated with the old system. The methodology showed that between 2005 and 2016, the annual growth rate was 0.45 percentage points higher (Spanish).



Oil & Gas Upstream


Cuba hit the gas on drilling in Varadero… Cuba will continue drilling a horizontal well of extended length (English). The well should reach an 8,240-meter depth this year, a record in Latin America and the Caribbean.


…and Barbados will start drilling soon. Oil exploration in Barbados is expected to begin in 2019 (English). Barbados negotiated exploration licenses for two blocks with BHP Billiton and Repsol.


ExxonMobil’s contract gives Guyana options for future deals. The Petroleum Agreement signed with ExxonMobil provides an opportunity for Guyana to design future contracts to suit itself (English). The Business Minister encouraged the Guyanese to ignore the “doom and gloom” about the oil and gas sector, focusing on the positive benefits (English) the industry could bring to Guyana.


Guyana plans to deploy oil spill equipment. Guyana prepares for oil fever with four containers of oil spill response equipment (English) and accessories, located at strategic points to respond to an oil spill. SOL said it is an oil-spill partner with ExxonMobil in Guyana.


A Jamaican landowner put oil exploration up for sale. In St. Elizabeth, a landowner listed property for nearly J$9bn, including the prospect of oil discoveries offshore from that area (English). Tullow Oil is doing the explorations with a license from the Jamaican government.



Oil & Gas Downstream


The NGC and CNC agreed at last. The National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (NGC) and Caribbean Nitrogen Company Limited (CNC) signed a new gas sales agreement, resuming the gas flow into the CNC Plant (English). Both parties have resolved their issues and reached agreement on the key commercial terms.


Scammers tried to trick the DR’s SEC with boat sludge. The Society of Fuels and Derivatives Companies (SEC) denounced a distortion of importing hydrocarbons to the Dominican Republic (English) classified as sludge from ships. The entity, which includes seven fuel distribution companies, tries to regulate the use of oily residues.


Canadian crude gains ground against Venezuelan oil in the Gulf. Canadian heavy crude is replacing Venezuelan oil imports in Texas Gulf Coast refineries (English) for the first time ever. Five Gulf Coast refineries are also importing more crude from unexpected markets, including Chad, Colombia, and Iraq (English).



Renewables & Electricity


Guatemala sold power and textiles to El Salvador. Guatemala exported power and textiles to El Salvador with US$40.2m accumulated since February, an increase of 12.5% (Spanish) in the first two months of 2018. Electricity sales increased from US$27.7m to US$34.6m.


Ecorus was the big winner at the Saba solar tender. Ecorus Projects BV was awarded the Saba Electric Company NV’s solar tender (English). Saba Electric also offered a battery storage system of 1.5MWh.


Guatemala ensures electricity for the ballot. Energuate and the Empresa Eléctrica de Guatemala established a state of alert and preventive actions (Spanish) to ensure power is available in the country and at the polling stations. The Energuate and EEGSA survey will be held from April 9 to May 31.


The Bahamas wants to go green. The Chamber of Commerce and the private sector expect to attract green energy solutions to the island (English), acting after years of discussions. The chamber said the purpose of the green initiative was to convince the private sector to reduce energy costs and consumption.



Lateral Thinking


A Zika vaccine could end prenatal infections. The mosquito-borne Zika virus has become widespread across Central and South America and the Caribbean. Researchers are developing a vaccine that is expected to be available within the next several years; its effectiveness depends on demographic and fertility patterns (English), among others.



Quote of the Week


“El arte (como la religión o como la ciencia o como la filosofía) es otro intento de imponer la luz del orden a la tiniebla del caos.”


“Art (like religion or science or philosophy) is another effort to impose the light of order on the darkness of chaos.”



– Guillermo Cabrera Infante (1929-2005), Cuban writer.


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