The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


August 27, 2018 edition–Frontera’s finding; LNG plant in Central America; and El Salvador’s new friend.




Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. El Salvador broke up with Taiwan; Panama’s LNG plant, the first in Central America, is up and running; and El Salvador’s CEL requested a geothermal tender.


Greater Antilles. Jamaica considers closing Petrojam’s refinery; FEMA approved US$110m for Prepa; and KEPCO won a US$37.8m project for distribution in the Dominican Republic.


Lesser Antilles. BHP found hydrocarbons at Bongos-2; and Citgo will resume work on Aruba’s refinery.


South America’s Caribbean Coast. Frontera found hydrocarbons in Colombia’s Llanos 25 block; PDVSA and NuStar agreed on storage fees; and Venezuela will pay US$2bn to ConocoPhillips.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in Guyana’s possible verification of ExxonMobil’s figures (English).



Political Economy


Barbados’ unemployment increased. Barbados experienced a 0.3% increase in its unemployment rate during the first three months of the year, reaching 9.7%, compared to the same period in 2017 (English). In the first quarter of 2018, the wholesale and retail trade sectors employed the largest number of people, 19,900 individuals.


Jamaica’s growth hit a record. The Jamaican economy grew 1.8% for the April-June 2018 quarter, compared with the corresponding quarter of 2017 (English). This represented the strongest quarterly growth in approximately two years and marked 14 consecutive quarters of positive growth.


El Salvador broke up with Taiwan. The president of El Salvador announced the country broke diplomatic relations with Taiwan and established relations with China (Spanish). El Salvador follows 177 countries that recognize only one China.


A 7.3 magnitude earthquake hit Venezuela. A 7.3 magnitude earthquake caused structural damage to buildings in Venezuela and other Caribbean islands, the largest to strike Venezuela since 1900 (English). Seismologists warned there could be another tremor in the following days.



Oil & Gas Upstream


Frontera found hydrocarbons in Colombia’s Llanos 25 block. Frontera Energy confirmed the presence of hydrocarbons on Llanos 25 block onshore Colombia, while the Acorazado-1 well is being considered for testing (English). The exploration well reached a total depth of 15,470 feet, and hydrocarbons were confirmed in a Mirador Reservoir section.


Shell delivered gas from Dolphin. Looking to build a stronger competitive position in Trinidad and Tobago, Shell delivered gas from its first well in its Dolphin Extension Campaign in the East Coast Marine Area (ECMA) ahead of schedule (English). With the Starfish development, projects were accelerated following the acquisition of Chevron’s assets.


BHP released an EPC for the Ruby Project. BHP published an invitation to submit expressions of interest for the provision of engineering procurement and construction (EPC) and marine installation for BHP’s offshore Ruby project (English). BHP Trinidad and Tobago plans to tender several packages, including EPC of a well protector platform.


BHP found hydrocarbons at Bongos-2. BHP reported the finding of hydrocarbons at Bongos-2, located in BHP’s northern contract area, drilled using the Deepwater Invictus. BHP holds a 70% stake in the block, while BPTT maintains a 30% share (English).


Shell oil traders will move from Barbados to Bahamas. Royal Dutch Shell’s oil traders in Barbados are being moved to the Bahamas next month. The goal is to make travel to customers in the Latin America region easier for its employees (English).



Oil & Gas Downstream


Venezuela will pay ConocoPhillips its US$2bn. After ConocoPhillips won the arbitration ruling and seized PDVSA oil inventories, cargoes and terminals, PDVSA had agreed to a US$2bn judgment handed down by an International Chamber of Commerce tribunal, to be paid over five years (English).


PDVSA and NuStar agreed on storage fees. Venezuela’s PDVSA and NuStar Energy LP reached an agreement over outstanding storage fees, which will allow PDVSA to resume use of a storage terminal in St. Eustatius (English). Since 2017, NuStar suspended PDVSA several times from using its facility over missed payments.


Citgo will resume work on Aruba’s refinery. Citgo plans to resume work to refurbish a 235,000-barrel-per-day oil refinery in Aruba (English). Efforts at the plant were slowed due to the US financial sanctions imposed on its parent company, PDVSA.


Jamaica considers closing Petrojam’s refinery. Jamaica is weighing the closure of the 35,000 b/d Petrojam refinery, as it is unable to conclude terms with potential investors for an upgrade (English). Petrojam will lose its major clients in 2019, with JPSCo and bauxite refiners completing plant conversions to natural gas.


The Isla refinery is working at a minimum. While awaiting resolution of a legal dispute between PDVSA and ConocoPhillips, Curacao’s Isla refinery has being operating at a minimum level and has being looking for a new partner to participate in the facility (English). Workers have been performing maintenance to several plants.



Renewables & Electricity


Jamaica is working on a combined energy plant. The construction of a new combined energy plant in Old Harbour Bay, St Catherine, will help Jamaica’s energy security (English). Prime Minister Andrew Holness said the 190MW power plant can contribute to the increase of local and foreign direct investments (English).


St. Lucia cut the ribbon on a solar farm. St. Lucia opened a 3MW solar farm that will provide 5% of the island’s power demand (English). The project will contribute to the goal of getting 35% power generation from renewables by 2020.


KEPCO won a US$37.8m project for distribution in the Dominican Republic. South Korea’s Korea Electric Power (KEPCO) won a US$37.8m project to build new energy distribution facilities in the Dominican Republic (English). The goal is to reduce power transmission losses by 30%.


Panama’s LNG plant is up and running. AES Colón invested US$1.1bn in the first LNG-powered generation plant of Central America (Spanish). The plant, with a total 381MW capacity installed, will start supplying the region after September 2019, satisfying 25% of the potential market.


Belco is happy paying back solar producers. The Bermuda Regulatory Authority ordered Belco to reimburse users with solar panels for all energy put into its system (English). Belco is pleased to compensate the distributed generation customers and expects more people to sell excess energy back into the grid (English).


FEMA okays US$110m for Prepa. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) granted US$110m in Public Assistance grants to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) and the Office of Recovery and Reconstruction of Puerto Rico (English). The grants are for “debris removal,” “restoration of disaster-damaged facilities,” and “life-saving emergency protective measures.”


CEL requested a geothermal tender. El Salvador’s Executive Hydropower Commission of the Lempa River (Grupo CEL) requested the power regulator launch an auction for geothermal power (Spanish). The president of Grupo CEL has discussed a US$400m credit with the World Bank to finance geothermal projects of its subsidiary LaGeo.



Old School Social


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


The Central American Energy Transition Roundtable is scheduled for September 20 at the Barceló San José Hotel, in Costa Rica.


The CARILEC Renewable Energy Community & Smart Grid Conference will be held September 23-27 at the Hilton Miami Downtown.



Lateral Thinking


Old species slowly learned and improved. The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama has found that young species can take advantage of new opportunities more easily than older species (English). Scientists tracked the change in a family of marine animals known as cupuladriid bryozoans.



Quote of the Week


“No puede conmigo

la tristeza

la arrastro hacia la vida

y se evapora.”


“Sadness cannot win me

I drag it towards life

And it evaporates.”



-Claribel Alegría (1924-2018), Nicaraguan-Salvadoran poet, essayist, novelist, and journalist.



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