The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


August 16, 2021 edition–Colombia’s new oil areas; T&T ammonia; and Jamaica’s sun.



Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. Costa Rica will definitely say no to oil drilling; and Costa Rica will pay more for fuel.


Greater Antilles / Northern Islands. Cuba okayed solar system imports for individuals; JPS is thinking about the sun; and the Dominican Republic okayed solar projects.


Lesser Antilles / Southern Islands. NGC and MHTL signed a gas supply contract; Barbados received more electrical buses; and Trinidad is moving from gas to green ammonia.


South America’s Caribbean Coast. Colombia set 370 areas for oil exploration; Guyana got funding for hydropower plants; and Venezuela promoted renewables.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in Colombia’s hydrogen (Renewables Now – English); Colombia’s gas production (BN Americas – English); and Promigas’ future plans (Semana – Spanish).



Government & NGO


Mexico will host Venezuela talks. President Nicolás Maduro’s government and his opposition met to talk in Mexico to create conditions for eventual US sanctions relief and to resolve a dispute over the upcoming elections (Platts – English).


The IADB will boost Belize’s MSMEs. The Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) approved a US$15m operation to help micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Belize (IADB – English). The project will promote the economic recovery of MSMEs.


Guyana and Trinidad private sectors signed an MoU. The American Chamber of Commerce of Guyana entered an agreement with Trinidad & Tobago’s counterpart, providing for mutual cooperation between them (Loop News – English). The goal is to advance the interests of the respective members and the promotion of trade and investment in both countries.


Dominican Republic’s FDI fell during the pandemic. Foreign direct investment (FDI) in the Dominican Republic fell 15.4% during the COVID-19 pandemic last year, compared to 2019 (Dominican Today – English). The inflow of FDI to the country in 2020 totaled US$2.6 billion, resulting in a reduction of US$467 million.


Venezuela will get rid of some zeros from its bills. The Caribbean nation will lop six zeros off the currency with new bills by October 1 (Market Watch – English). Today, the 1 million bolivar note is the largest denomination, and it is worth roughly a US quarter.



Oil & Gas Upstream


Colombia needs to speed up drilling to avoid high gas prices. According to GlobalData, Colombia should develop a more aggressive oil exploration strategy to avoid an increase in imported gas prices (Hellenic Shipping News – English). Only one announced project in Colombia is expected to come online by 2024.


Ecopetrol plans to recover from the social disruptions. The state-owned company’s production suffered in the second quarter because of Colombia’s social unrest, but the company forecasts a strong recovery (Natural Gas Intel – English). Ecopetrol aimed for gas to account for 35% of its production by 2030.


Colombia sets 370 areas for oil exploration. The National Hydrocarbons Agency (ANH) published the technical specifications of 370 exploration areas to be tendered in upcoming rounds (BN Americas – English). The acreage is spread among 22 offshore and onshore basins.


Costa Rica will definitely say no to oil drilling. The Central American government will reinforce a ban on hydrocarbons exploration to support its 2050 decarbonization goal. The government wants to make it a law to block future presidents from reversing it (Argus Media – English).



Liquid Fuels Mid-Downstream


A pipeline exploded in Colombia and hurt five people. A collapse produced an explosion of a pipeline section located in the Toledo municipality (El Tiempo – Spanish). Five people were injured, and three suffered serious burns.


Paria fixed a pipeline leaking into the Gulf. A leak on a crude pipeline on land caused a spill in the Gulf of Paria. The company found no additional leaks along the pipeline; the spill is contained and the cleanup is in process (Trinidad & Tobago Guardian – English).


Costa Rica will pay more for fuel. The Autoridad Reguladora de los Servicios Públicos (Aresep) announced a ¢2 colones increase in the single tax on fuels for a liter of super and regular gasoline and ¢1 colon for diesel (QCostaRica – English). The fuel tax currently represents 35.2% of the price of a liter of super gasoline.


The Dominican Republic will pay more for fuels. The Dominican Republic’s Industry, Trade, and MSMEs Ministry reported an increase of between 2 and 4 pesos per gallon for gasoline and diesel (Dominican Today – English). The government made commitments of DP$405m to importers so that liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) maintained its price.



Natural Gas Mid-Downstream & LNG


NGC and MHTL signed a gas supply contract. The National Gas Company of Trinidad & Tobago Limited (NGC) signed a consolidated gas supply contract with Methanol Holdings (Trinidad) Limited (Caribbean Times NYC – English). This contract will support operations at the MHTL Methanol Complex.


The Dominican Republic enjoyed its natural gas price insurance. The Caribbean nation received US$3.7m as compensation for the insurance contracted to control natural gas prices (Dominican Today – English). The cost of the insurance was US$2.5bn and the excess will be used to cover the deficit of the power sector.


Trinidad is moving from gas to green ammonia. Trinidad & Tobago is transitioning its natural gas-based industries to green hydrogen, starting with ammonia (Argus Media – English). BP and Shell will produce 130MW from two solar farms to run an electrolyzer that would produce 27,200 t/yr of green hydrogen by 2024.



Electric Power & Renewables


Guyana got funding for hydropower plants. The Caribbean nation applied to the Islamic Development Bank to finance the Hinterland Electrification Program. The funds will be used to construct and rehabilitate two small hydropower plants at Lethem (DPI – English).


The Dominican Republic okayed solar projects. The Caribbean nation’s national energy commission granted provisional concessions to three solar projects that will provide 147MWp of new capacity (Renewables Now – English). Developers will have 18 months to conduct studies on site before qualifying for definitive concessions.


Power plan fixes caused the Dominican Republic’s power outages. Several towns in the north of the Caribbean nation suffered power outages due to the interconnection work in the Bonao III substation (Dominican Today – English). The maintenance work concluded on August 11.


JPS is thinking about the sun. Jamaica Public Service Company, JPS, is considering the development of three solar plants with a combined capacity of 100MW. JPS is developing an initial resource assessment and environmental impact assessment (Jamaica Gleaner – English).


Cuba okayed solar system imports for individuals. The Caribbean nation’s government published a resolution that considers fundamental parts to solar panels, invertors, support structure, etc., that are imported independently from the photovoltaic system (PV Magazine – Spanish).


Venezuela promotes renewables. The government launched a new strategy, “Activate awareness with energy and efficiency,” to involve the population in good uses of electricity. The deputy minister for electric energy use and new sources announced the installation of a solar system in Guárico (PV Magazine – Spanish).


Barbados received more electrical buses. Barbados has 14 more electric buses, bringing the total to 49, the largest fleet of its kind in the Caribbean (Barbados Today – English). The vehicles and the power infrastructure are valued at US$42m.



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 8th Geothermal Congress for Latin America and the Caribbean will be held on September 8-10.



Lateral Thinking


LUMA cannot get a hold of the blackouts. LUMA warned about power disruptions due to the “still very fragile” utility, even if a storm has yet to pass over Puerto Rico (Caribbean Business – English). The total number of residents without power surpassed 7,500 by Tuesday afternoon.



Quote of the Week


“Our hearts flew up to heaven, and all the soot and flying dust of burning cane vanished in the smoke fires of hell while ours ascended skywards, washed in the blood of the lamb.”



– Ramabai Espinet (1948) Indo-Trinidadian poet, novelist, essayist, and critic from Trinidad and Tobago.




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