The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


August 19, 2019 edition– St. Kitts and Nevis’ solar; Tullow’s discovery in Guyana; and Caño Limón’s 26th attack.



Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. Guatemala’s solar auction raised questions; El Salvador may cancel El Chaparral hydropower project; and hunger and drought boost Central America migration.


Greater Antilles. LNG seems to be Jamaica’s future; and ECLAC said FDI in the Dominican Republic slowed.


Lesser Antilles. Touchstone started drilling Coho-1; BPL had a dark week; and St. Kitts and Nevis will cover 25% of its power needs with a solar plant.


South America’s Caribbean Coast. Tullow found black gold in Guyana; Venezuela and China join forces to increase production; and the Caño Limón pipeline was attacked for the 26th time this year.



Political Economy


Guatemala’s new president will seek a better US migration deal. Alejandro Giammattei won the presidential elections and pledged to negotiate better terms for the country’s migration deal with the US (English). His efforts may be weakened by the division in the national Congress.


Guyana is expected to grow by 4.5%. The Guyana government forecasted 4.5% annual growth, as the economy increased 4% in the first six months of the year (English). The good economic performance was boosted by different sectors, including construction, wholesale and retail trade, and financial activities.


ECLAC said FDI in the Dominican Republic slipped. The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) said that foreign direct investment in the Dominican Republic fell 29%, to US$2.5bn dollars, in 2018 (English). The forecast for 2019 is not encouraging considering the international context, with a prediction of a 5% decline in FDI inflows.


Barbados’ central bank expects a lot from 2020. The Central Bank of Barbados said public finances have improved during the past 12 months, together with the international reserves, thanks to growth in the tourism sector. The central bank expects a growth range of 0.75% to 1.25% for 2020 (English).


Hunger and drought boost Central America migration. The United Nations said poor harvests caused by a prolonged drought of five years are causing rural families to leave their homes and seek better opportunities in other countries (English). Approximately 1.4 million people living in the affected area need food aid, according to the WFP.



Oil & Gas Upstream


Touchstone started drilling Coho-1. Touchstone spudded the Coho-1 exploration well on Trinidad and Tobago’s Ortoire block, looking for gas prospects at depths between 5,200 and 8,500 feet (English). The well will penetrate an untested thrust that seems promising based on 3D seismic and offset production records.


Tullow found black gold in Guyana. Tullow Oil made an oil discovery at Jethro-1 with more than 100 million recoverable barrels (English). The Jethro-1 exploration well found 55 meters of net oil pay. Tullow Oil’s shares increased 17% after the discovery (English).


BPTT’s Cassia compression project is on its way. The BP Trinidad and Tobago (BPTT) Cassia compression platform project is progressing on time. The project would allow BPTT to access and produce low-pressure natural gas reserves in the Greater Cassia Area offshore Trinidad and Tobago (English).


Venezuela and China join forces to increase production. President Nicolás Maduro announced a joint venture with China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) to increase output to 165,000 barrels per day from a current capacity of 110,000 barrels per day (English). Sinovensa, owned by PDVSA and CNPC, produces extra-heavy Orinoco crude.



Oil & Gas Downstream


Citgo named a new CEO. Carlos Jorda was named the next chief executive to run a company that faces numerous legal problems and US sanctions (English). Jorda was chairman of Citgo Petroleum between 1999 and 2002 and retired from the company almost 20 years ago.


Guatemala paid more for fuel in the first half of 2019. Fuel imports cost US$1.4m in the first half of the year, 5.8% more than was spent in the same period in 2018 (Spanish). The volume of imports increased 17.2%, adding up to 21.3 million barrels.


Marine LNG may be in Jamaica’s future. LNG is considered a possible replacement for traditional marine fuels, while getting the gas bunkering infrastructure seems to be the challenge (English). Jamaica may emerge as an LNG bunkering reference, while several US companies are developing facilities to connect Caribbean customers with the product (English).


The Caño Limón pipeline was attacked for the 26th time in 2019. Ecopetrol said a bomb attack damaged a section of the Caño Limón pipeline in Las Bancas in the Arauquita municipality. Although the bomb caused a small spill, it did not contaminate any water sources as it was contained in the crater caused by the explosion (English).



Renewables & Electricity


St. Kitts and Nevis will cover 25% of its power needs with a solar plant. St. Kitts and Nevis will enjoy a new utility-scale solar and storage plant that will meet 25% of its energy demand (English). The solar park will have a 35.6MW capacity and a 44.2MWh battery storage facility.


BPL had a dark week. While Bimini’s Chamber of Commerce said optimistically that the island is getting back on track after the energy problems (English), regulators are investigating the outages (English). The BEWU president said BPL’s investment to acquire Wartsila engines left the company “unable to meet maintenance goals” (English).


El Salvador may cancel the El Chaparral hydropower project. President Nayib Bukele announced that the government is considering cancelling the El Chaparral project, which started 10 years ago and is still not completed (Spanish). The project has progressed 70%, and it was expected to be working by March 2019.


Guatemala’s solar auction raised questions. A political party presented a complaint against public officials from the National Institute of Electricity who approved the basis for the solar power auction (Spanish). The complaint for allegedly imitating the appearance of a contract accuses them of a breach of duty, abusing authority, and fraud (Spanish).


The GDF’s call for Expressions of Interest to end soon. The deadline for the Geothermal Development Facility’s (GDF) call for Expressions of Interest ends on August 29. The GDF plans to finance geothermal projects in Latin America in eligible countries such as Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, and Costa Rica (English).



Old School Social


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


The Madrid Energy Conference is scheduled for September 4-6 at the Hotel Meliá Madrid Serrano, in Madrid.


The Dominican Republic Grid Investment Forum will be held September 5 at the Intercontinental Santo Domingo, in Santo Domingo.



Lateral Thinking


The Dominican Republic’s biggest bank powers up electric cars. Banco Popular installed the first solar charging station in front of its main offices, offering bank customers and visitors the ability to recharge their electric and hybrid vehicles for free (English). The bank offers four outlets, three with 110 volts and one with 220 volts.



Quote of the Week


“Nuestra política es como toda política de colonia: una asamblea de ratones donde ninguno se atreve a ponerle el cascabel al gato.”


“Our politics is like all colonial politics: an assembly of mice where no one dares to bell the cat.”


–  Luis Palés Matos (1898-1959), Puerto Rican poet.



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