The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


August 31, 2020 edition–Panamá’s transmission; Bonaire’s oil tanks; and Exxon’s gas injection issues.



Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. Enel Green Power Guatemala signed the biggest PPA in Guatemala; Panamá’s transmission attracted lots of bidders; and Sunshine and CleanSpark partnered in Costa Rica.


Greater Antilles / Northern Islands. Zarubezhneft celebrates Cuban oil; the USDA boosts renewables in rural Puerto Rico; and US sanctions hit Cuba’s power.


Lesser Antilles / Southern Islands. Touchstone is ready for Ortoire; Bonaire asked PDVSA to remove oil from its tanks; and St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ geothermal project may explore other options.


South America’s Caribbean Coast. Exxon faced gas injection issues again; Arrow Exploration sold Colombia’s LLA 23 Block; and Venezuela is having a hard time with gasoline production.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in Haiti and Turkey’s partnership (PR Newswire – English); EDP’s natural gas plant (El Mundo – Spanish); and Guyana’s crude marketer tender (Argus Media – English).



Government & NGO


Colombia plans to boost foreign investment. Colombia launched a plan to attract US$11.5bn in non-energy-related foreign investment through 2022 to create jobs during the COVID-19 economic crisis (Reuters – English). The plan, which includes tax incentives and bureaucratic simplifications, encourages multinationals to relocate their operations from Asia.


Laura hit the Caribbean. Caribbean islands already struggling with the economic impact of coronavirus faced death and damage caused by Tropical Storm Laura. The storm left 24 dead and damaged thousands of homes and power infrastructure (Reuters – English).


Venezuela and Colombia’s tensions rise. Venezuela closed entry from Colombia at the most frequently used crossing on its border (Reuters – English). President Ivan Duque said that the Maduro administration is considering purchasing Iranian missiles and is offering weapons to Colombian armed groups (Reuters – English).


Maduro thanked Iran for its oil. President Nicolás Maduro thanked Iran for helping the Caribbean country overcome US sanctions on its oil industry (Reuters – English). Maduro did not provide further details of how Iran was helping the industry.


Moody’s had bad news for Nicaragua and The Bahamas… The international rating agency expects a 22% contraction in The Bahamas’ GDP in 2020 (Tribune 242 – English). Moody’s warned Nicaragua that despite controlling the fiscal deficit in 2020, there will be no growth in 2021 (La Prensa – Spanish).


…and Fitch said Colombia’s economy will contract 7%. The international rating agency said the Caribbean nation’s economy is expected to contract by almost 7% due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fitch warned that there is a 50% chance the country’s investment rating will fall to BB+ in two years (Reuters – English).



Oil & Gas Upstream


Arrow Exploration sold LLA 23 Block. Arrow Exploration announced the sale of its LLA 23 Block in the Llanos Basin, Colombia (Street Insider – English). The sale is subject to the approval of the license transfer by the ANH for US$12m.


Venezuela is having a hard time with gasoline production. PDVSA resumed gasoline production at the reformer unit of its Cardon refinery, processing naphtha and raising its octane levels. The reformer unit produces around 25,000 barrels per day of gasoline from naphtha for the domestic market (Oil Price – English).


Exxon faced gas injection issues again. ExxonMobil is limiting the output at Liza in Guyana to 100,000 barrels per day due to more issues with the reinjection of natural gas (Reuters – English). Exxon planned to increase output for the first phase of the Liza project to its full capacity of 120,000 barrels per day.


Zarubezhneft celebrates Cuban oil. The Russian producer recorded increased production from the first in a series of new wells of Boca de Jaruco field, employing its own mixture of catalysts to improve the characteristics of heavy viscous oil (Upstreamonline – English).


Colombia’s private oil companies plan to invest to recover. Private oil and gas companies in Colombia plan to invest US$715m during the rest of 2020 to boost the energy sector (Energy World – English). The goal is to reactivate the sector after the long COVID-19 lockdown.


Touchstone is ready for Ortoire. Touchstone Exploration is completely funded to drill two exploration wells in Trinidad (ValueTheMarkets – English). The company has enough financial firepower to finish drilling Chinook-1 and follow up with Cascadura Deep later this year.



Liquid Fuels Mid-Downstream


El Salvador’s oil demand fell in July. Fuel imports in El Salvador fell US$339.3m in June, the lowest demand since 2004 due to the economic lockdown and the fall in international prices (El Mundo – Spanish). The main fuels imported between January and July were gasoline, diesel, LPG, and propane.


US sanctions hit Cuba’s power. Cuba is increasing power cuts as US sanctions on PDVSA make it harder for the island to keep its lights on (Argus Media – English). Power consumption is running 4pc above the government’s mandate, according to deputy energy minister Tatiana Amaran.


Bonaire asked PDVSA to remove oil from its tanks. The government of the Caribbean island ordered PDVSA to move oil stored in its 10 million-barrel BOPEC oil terminal on the island to safer tanks, due to environmental concerns (Reuters – English).



Natural Gas Mid-Downstream & LNG


Colombia needs less natural gas. Natural gas demand in Colombia fell 1.66% between August 17 and 23 as thermal generation and natural gas-powered vehicles required 7% and 4.1% less, respectively (Valora Analitik – Spanish). Demand is expected to change depending on the reactivation process.


Promigas considers the Pacific LNG bid. Promigas could expand its LNG infrastructure portfolio bidding in a tender for the US$700m Pacific LNG regasification project (BN Americas – English). The project also includes an associated pipeline that would connect the import terminal to Yumbo.


The natural-gas powered plan in Acajutla is expected by 2021. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the El Salvadorian natural gas plant under construction by Energía del Pacífico (EDP) still expects to start operations in 2021 (El – Spanish).



Electric Power & Renewables


Enel Green Power Guatemala signed the biggest PPA in Guatemala. The company signed a PPA with CED to supply 1.26TWh of renewable energy in the next 10 years (PV Magazine – Spanish). Enel Green Power Guatemala has operated five hydropower plants for 16 years.


St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ geothermal project may explore other options. Managers of the geothermal project are considering other options to make the project viable, such as a closed loop system (Search Light – English). While the geothermal project at Bamboo Range generated enough heat for geothermal energy, the project is not economically viable.


The USDA boosts renewables in rural Puerto Rico. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced an investment of US$631,993 in the Rural Energy for America Program in Puerto Rico (Caribbean Business – English). The goal is to increase energy resilience and decrease the demand for energy.


Sunshine and CleanSpark partnered in Costa Rica. The Costa Rican company and the US firm CleanSpark signed a strategic alliance. Sunshine would exclusively use CleanSpark’s Microgrid Value Stream Optimizer’s license (PV Magazine – Spanish). CleanSpark designs software for microgrids, administers energy resources, and provides strategic innovation and design services.


Colombia plans an energy storage tender. The Mines and Energy Ministry said the country will have solar and wind energy projects of 2,800MW installed or under construction in 2022 (PV Magazine – Spanish). Besides the energy sector modernization, the first tender in Latin America for energy storage will be announced.


Panamá’s transmission attracted lots of bidders. Etesa will start the proposal review in the call to build and implement the 230kV Panamá III-Sabanitas line and associated substations (BN Americas – English). All the groups’ offers were for US$88.65m, and a roll of the dice will determine whose proposal will go first.



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 7th Geothermal Congress for Latin America & the Caribbean (GEOLAC) will be held September 15-17.


The 12th Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum is scheduled for October 28-30.



Lateral Thinking


St. Kitts and Nevis fights for every inch of its land. The Caribbean nation is threatened by both the rising sea levels and the region’s frequent hurricanes. Because St. Kitts and Nevis’ mountainous terrain is largely made up of sandy loam, cut through with “ghauts,” soil erosion is another menace (Modern Diplomacy – English).



Quote of the Week


“All human wisdom is contained in these two words – Wait and Hope.”


– Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870), French writer with Haitian ancestry.



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