The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean

August 14, 2017 edition— T&T wants to make solar panels; Suriname moves to drill Araku; and Colombia issued its first green bond.





Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. Guatemala cut the ribbon on two new transmission lines; Costa Rica turned down geothermal finance; and Central America is a growing regional leader.


Greater Antilles. Puerto Rico rejected Excelerate Energy’s contract cancellation; Jamaica is increasing power generation with natural gas; and Cuba inaugurates its second solar farm.


Lesser Antilles. Trinidad and Tobago wants to manufacture solar panels; Dominica is seeking geothermal finance; and the Guyana-Suriname Basin is named the second most prospective.


Northern South America. Venezuela is out of Mercosur and Colombia issued its first green bond.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in the first Caribbean FLNG facility (English); the CDB’s worry over Barbados’ and Trinidad’s debt (English); and the delay in the third and fourth transmission grid in Panama (Spanish).



Political Economy


Cepal sees Central America as a growing regional leader. According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (Cepal), Central America will grow 3.6% in 2017 (Spanish). Nicaragua’s growth rate will reach 4.7%, the second highest in the region, while El Salvador maintains a 2.5% growth (Spanish) (Spanish).


Venezuela is out of Mercosur. The Chancellors of the founding members approved unanimously Venezuela’s suspension, applying the “democratic clause”. The Venezuelan government insisted that the indefinite suspension is “improper” and based on “false assumptions” (Spanish).


Trinidad and Tobago and Cuba asked for patience. The Cuban government assured its worried citizens that the freeze on new licenses for private-sector occupations would not last for years (English). The Trinidad and Tobago government asked for unity among stakeholders considering the country’s social and economic crisis (English).


Colombia issued its first green bond. Colombia’s Banco de Comercio Exterior issued the first green bond through the Colombian Stock Exchange, a C$200bn bond to fund projects to mitigate climate change impacts (English). The auction was two and a half times oversubscribed with a C$510bn demand.


The IMF finished its 2017 T&T mission. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) saw hopeful signs for Trinidad and Tobago’s economy after facing important declines in global energy prices since 2014 (English). The IMF expects a medium-term economic improvement with a fiscal adjustment and new projects to improve natural gas supply.



Oil & Gas Upstream


All eyes set on Suriname’s potential. The US Geological Survey ranked the Guyana-Suriname Basin as the second most prospective, with an estimated 13.6bn barrels of oil and 32 trillion cubic feet of natural gas (English). Plans to drill the Araku prospect, offshore Suriname, are underway.


Trinidad and Tobago suffered a “hydrocarbon release”. Atlantic LNG confirmed a “hydrocarbon release” from its Point Fortin facility, with the consequent evacuation of the staff (English). According to the company, the response and safety systems activated immediately and the incident was under control within 20 minutes.


Petrotrin will keep boosting oil production. Petrotrin’s President Fitzroy Harewood stated that the company continues focusing on increasing upstream production (English). Deployments of enhanced oil recovery in maturing oil fields and exploratory work to identify new deposits are being discussed to be ready for new regional and international markets.


The PCJ developed a new biodiesel blend. The Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) created a B5 biodiesel blend for use in diesel-engine vehicles, aiming to replace 97,000 barrels of imported oil (English). The biodiesel formula could boost the local agricultural sector by increasing the commercial farming of castor oil plants.



Oil & Gas Downstream


Puerto Rico rejected Excelerate Energy’s contract cancellation. Puerto Rico’s electric utility did not accept Excelerate Energy’s letter to cancel its contract to build a liquefied natural gas import terminal off the island’s southern coast (English). Excelerate wants to cancel the contract because of the public corporation’s bankruptcy.


Fuel prices were up in the Dominican Republic. Except natural gas, all fuel prices increased through August 11, according to the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, and Mipymes (MICM) (English). Premium gasoline increased by RD$5.00, reaching RD$213.20 per gallon, while regular gasoline is up RD$4.00, summing RD$199.20 per gallon.


Jamaica and T&T are moving in opposite directions when it comes to natural gas for power generation. Looking to diversify from oil, Jamaica is increasing power generation with natural gas to ensure electricity grid stability (English). Trinidad and Tobago wants to reduce its natural gas consumption by developing renewable energy (English).


Methanol prices skyrocketed and it’s partly from T&T’s fault. Global methanol prices almost doubled reaching US$455 per ton in June 2017, partly due to the decline in Trinidad and Tobago production (English). Methanol Holdings Trinidad reduced production due to shortfalls in natural gas supply and problems with negotiating new gas purchase contracts.



Renewables & Electricity


Trinidad and Tobago wants to manufacture solar panels. The first solar panel manufacturing plants in Trinidad and Tobago could be located in Point Lisas Industrial Estate and Tamana Intech Park (English). The country’s ability to manufacture solar panels could satisfy local demand, requiring US$1.3bn in investment and creating 2,000 jobs.


Guatemala cut the ribbon on two new transmission lines. Transportadora de Energía de Centroamérica (TRECSA) and Energía de Bogotá, Ingeniería y Servicios (EEBIS) finished two projects extending Guatemala’s trasmission grid by 133 km (Spanish). The work will benefit more than 300 communities.


The DR electricity pact is in danger. A local expert suggested the electrical pact would fail due to the government’s lack of interest in liberalizing the electricity sector. The decision over who would control Punta Catalina and how tariffs will be set is still up for debate (Spanish).


Cuba inaugurates its second solar farm. Cuba’s second solar farm was opened in the Caguagua village propelling the use of renewable energy (Spanish). The installation can produce 700 MWh per month with 8,800 panels.


Dominica is seeking geothermal finance, but Costa Rica turned it down. Costa Rica refused to approve a loan with the Inter-American Development Bank to finish the Borinquen I and las Pailas II projects (Spanish). Meanwhile Dominica is seeking international funding to develop its geothermal potential (English).



Lateral Thinking


Women from Izabal and Quiqué learned solar technology in India. Through the Barefoot College in India, indigenous women from Guatemala (eight Ixiles, four K’iche’, and two Mayas) learned to be solar engineers capable of installing and maintaining photovoltaic systems (Spanish). Their new expertise will bring light to their communities.



Quote of the Week


“The world is always in movement.”


– V. S. Naipaul (1932), British writer and Nobel Prize winner who was born in Trinidad




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