The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean

December 4, 2017 edition- Ecopetrol goes big; Panama’s oil tenders are coming; and Nicaragua’s renewables tax cuts continue.




Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. Guatemala and Mexico agree to strengthen their free trade agreement; Panama’s oil tender may start soon; and Nicaragua offered to extend renewables tax cuts.


Greater Antilles. The DR’s debate over which fuel to sell in service stations continued and the US Department of Energy suggests improving Puerto Rico’s grid.


Lesser Antilles. Shell will operate two rigs in T&T; Grenada confirmed it has gas; and BREA agrees with the FTC’s decision on selling a Barbados oil terminal.


Northern South America. GEB is indecisive on Promigas; Venezuela and Haiti signed an agricultural and energy agreement; and Ecopetrol plans to expand production.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in Belco’s integrated plan (English); Venezuela’s arrests of PDVSA’s managers (Spanish); and Jamaica’s suffering with US sanctions (English).



Political Economy


The IMF kept busy in the Caribbean. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says the Barbados government is not doing enough to fix its economic problems (English). The IMF suggested Trinidad and Tobago should further hike taxes (English). The IMF mission arrived in El Salvador (Spanish).


The CDB and CARICOM strengthen their friendship. The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and CARICOM plan to strengthen their collaboration and discussed ongoing cooperation areas (English). Both institutions agreed to share and develop matrices highlighting major operations.


Guatemala and Mexico agree to strengthen free trade agreement. Guatemala’s Economy Minister and the general director of ProMéxico signed the cooperation memorandum to promote trade and investment (Spanish). Guatemala is promoting 12 infrastructure projects with public and private alliances, including the pipeline crossing both countries.


Venezuela and Haiti signed agricultural and energy agreements. Nicolás Maduro explained that the first agreement will strengthen agricultural cooperation for food production and trade (English). The second will increase investment in development projects.



Oil & Gas Upstream


Shell will operate two rigs in T&T. Shell’s short-term focus is drilling in the East Coast Marine Area with two contracted rigs. The Maersk Discoverer rig will be working on the Starfish field and the Rowan Gorilla VI rig on the Dolphin field (English).


Grenada confirmed it has gas. The Grenada government confirmed the discovery of natural gas located in about 400 feet of water near the country’s border with Venezuela (English). The government still awaits test results to determine the quality of the gas and whether the island could benefit financially.


Panama’s oil tenders may start soon. GX Technology finished collecting data about the oil and natural gas reserves along Panama’s coast and in the Caribbean Sea (Spanish). Two additional companies, Spectrum Geo Inc. and Geoex Panamá, are conducting similar studies to collect geophysical information on Panama’s subsoil.


Ecopetrol plans to expand exploration and production. The Colombian state-controlled oil giant has published a plan to invest between US$3.5bn and US$4bn in 2018 (English). The goal is to expand reserves and to reach 725,000 barrels of petroleum-equivalent per day next year.



Oil & Gas Downstream


Trinidad and Tobago imported even more crude oil from abroad. Between January and July 2017, Petrotrin imported 18.6 million barrels of crude oil, 32% coming from Russia (English). The country produces 70,000 bpd, and around 42,000 bpd goes to the Petrotrin refinery.


The debate over which DR fuel to sell in service stations continued. The Dominican Fuel Industry Companies Association (ADEIC) and Giuliani Security & Safety company will organize the first forum to discuss the possibility of selling all types of fuels in service stations (English). The conference will voice the differences between gasoline and diesel station owners and propane station owners, who oppose mixing fuels.


BREA backs FTC decision on oil terminal sale. Barbados Renewable Energy Association (BREA) supports the Fair Trading Commission’s decision on the sale of the Barbados National Terminal Company Limited (BNTCL) to the Kiffin Simpson-led Sol Group (English). BNTCL is a subsidiary of the Barbados National Oil Company.


GEB has not yet decided on Promigas. Colombia’s Grupo de Energía de Bogotá (GEB) has not decided to commit to a second phase of divestment of its 15.6% stake in Promigas, a gas distributor in South America (English). Investors have shown little interest, and GEB is still analyzing the market.



Renewables & Electricity


The Panama Canal went green with floating solar panels. The Panama Canal has installed 88 photovoltaic cells that will generate 22kW to power a workshop. The goal is to install a plant in the same area of Gatun Lake that will generate 10MW, and connect with the canal’s electricity network (Spanish).


Nicaragua offered an extension on renewables. The government of Nicaragua proposed to extend tax cuts on renewable energy projects until January 2023 (Spanish). The offer made in 2015 was originally extended until January 2018.


Edesur started modernizing the grid. Edesur Dominicana announced the beginning of its grid rehabilitation project in several sectors within Palmarejo, Villa Linda, and Pantoja municipalities (Spanish). The project will invest RD$502.7m to improve 59.073km of transmission lines, 1,762 streetlamps, and 435 transformers.


The US Department of Energy suggests making lemonade of hurricanes. The appointed assistant secretary of the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability is looking to improve the electric grids of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands (English). The office has identified 200 key locations for potential microgrids in Puerto Rico.



Old School Social


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


The 2nd Caribbean Infrastructure Forum is December 11-12 at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa, Montego Bay, Jamaica.


The Platts 18th Annual Caribbean Energy Conference is January 25-26 at Grand Hyatt Baha Mar, Nassau, in The Bahamas. This conference provides an excellent venue to learn what is happening in energy around the Caribbean, and to discuss key opportunities and challenges with industry leaders and colleagues.



Lateral Thinking


A school got a makeover and students performed better. After renovating its buildings, bathrooms, programs, and materials, the Christiana Moravian Primary and Infant School in Jamaica has improved the lives of its 1,200 students. With teaching and learning aids to support math and language curricula, students’ results in national examinations have improved (English).



Quote of the Week


“When history is written as it ought to be written, it is the moderation and long patience of the masses at which men will wonder, not their ferocity.”


-L. R. James (1901-1989), Afro-Trinidadian historian and journalist



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