The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


February 3, 2020 edition– Guatemala’s hydro; Exxon’s new oil discovery; and PDVSA’s closed refineries.




Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. Costa Rica may use the sea to power up; a former Guatemalan president okayed a new hydroelectric plant; and Total expects LNG bunker demand to increase in Panama.


Greater Antilles / Northern Islands. The Bahamas will boost renewables with the IDB’s help; Jamaican companies will bet on Guyana’s economy; and the IMF visited Haiti.


Lesser Antilles / Southern Islands. Permeability still evades St. Vincent; and Anguilla gives mobile renewable storage a go.


South America’s Caribbean Coast. Exxon made yet another oil discovery in Guyana; PDVSA closed its last two working refineries in Venezuela; and Orca-1 will commercially produce natural gas by 2024.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in Panama’s LNG project (BNAmericas – Spanish); Puerto Rico’s solar (New Energy Events – English); and Barbados’ power plant (New Energy Events – English).



Government & NGO


Jamaican companies will bet on Guyana’s economy. The head of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) said the Jamaican private sector wants to partner up with Guyana’s expanding business opportunities in both nations (Pride News – English). The JCC has 10 people representing different industries on the mission.


The BCRD is confident in the Dominican Republic’s economy. The governor of the Dominican Republic’s central bank (BCRD) denied the possibility of the elections negatively affecting economic activity (Diario Libre – Spanish). The goal of the BCRD is to guarantee stability in prices and the exchange rate.


The IMF visited Haiti. The International Monetary Fund recommended the Caribbean nation shift resources away from non‑priority spending toward social programs and investment (IMF – English). The goal is to focus on measures to boost domestic revenues and reduce exemptions in the near term.


Barbados questioned the motives behind a US visit. Certain Caribbean nations complained of the fact that only certain nations were invited to meet with the US Secretary of State. Barbados Prime Minister argued that “if some are invited and not all, then it is an attempt to divide the region,” and Trinidad and Tobago supported that position (Argus Media – English).



Oil & Gas Upstream


Exxon made yet another oil discovery in Guyana… ExxonMobil increased its oil estimates for Guyana by 2 billion barrels after the announcement of a new oil discovery (Reuters – English). Hess Corp. is working on the development of multiple production phases (Platts – English).


…and Suriname plans to be next. After Apache and Total’s discovery, and considering the similarities with neighboring Guyana, Suriname could become the newest energy power (National Interest – English). Given the size of the population and the economy, the energy windfall could be significant.


Maduro may consider privatizing Venezuela’s oil industry. Nicolás Maduro’s representatives have discussed with Rosneft, Repsol, and Eni the possibility of allowing the private companies to control Venezuela’s oil properties and PDVSA’s debt restructuring in exchange for assets (El Financiero – Spanish).


Colombia will invest more in oil, but production will be flat. Investment in the country’s oil industry will grow by 23% in 2020, reaching US$4.97bn (Hellenic Shipping News – English). Nonetheless, production will remain flat, increasing 0.5% compared to 2019 (Argus Media – English).


Ecopetrol says no to flaring gas. Colombia’s state oil company signed up to a global initiative led by the World Bank to stop gas flaring at its operations (Reuters – English). Subscribing to the initiative is part of Ecopetrol’s goal to cut emissions by 20% by 2030.



Liquid Fuels Mid-Downstream


A new company will sell Castrol lubricant in Guyana. West India Petroleum (WIP), as holder of the rights to sell Castrol lubricant oil to Guyana, Haiti, The Bahamas, Cayman, and Jamaica, appointed China Zonghoa as Guyana’s distributor (Stabroek News – English). WIP is still looking for distribution partners in Haiti, The Bahamas, and Cayman.


PDVSA closed its last two working refineries in Venezuela. The state-owned company shut down the Amuay and Cardon facilities at the Paraguana Refining Center due to multiple failures and a lack of crude to process (Platts – English). PDVSA plans to restart the Amuay refinery this week (Argus Media – English).


The coronavirus stopped Latin American oil flow into China. With the outbreak of the coronavirus, the flow of oil from Brazil, Colombia, and other Latin American countries to China has stopped (Oil Price – English). With the travel restrictions imposed to stop the virus, the demand for jet fuel and gasoline is expected to fall.


Another attack hit the Caño Limón pipeline. The infrastructure of Colombia’s Caño Limón pipeline was attacked in Arauquita, producing an oil spill at the JIBA well (Radio Nacional – Spanish). Guerrillas also burned a van transporting workers from Arauca to the Caño Limón oil field (Colombia Reports – English).



Natural Gas Mid-Downstream & LNG


Barbados is running low on natural gas. Restaurants on both the South and West Coasts had to turn clients away due to the lack of natural gas supply (Nation News – English). Residential customers confirmed that supply is low.


Colombia may become an LNG producer. Researchers at the Universidad Tecnológica de Pereira pointed to 24 existing wells from which LNG could be produced using gas that is currently flared (BNAmericas – English). The Orito field has the highest potential according to the report.


Orca-1 will be selling gas by 2024. In 2024, the Orca-1 well will be producing natural gas for Colombian clients, replacing the Chuchupa well and contributing to the nation’s energy security (Portafolio – Spanish). Production at Kronos, Purple Angel, and Gordon will start by 2028.


Total expects LNG bunker demand to increase in the region. Total considers the Caribbean and Panama to be a potential growth area for LNG bunkering development (Platts – English). LNG bunker demand is expected to reach 10 million mt a year by 2025.



Electric Power & Renewables


Permeability still evades St. Vincent’s geothermal efforts. The level of permeability required to support the geothermal energy project has not been reached in the three completed wells due to the tight fractures that have limited the permeability (IWN – English). The team will continue to test well stimulation options.


Costa Rica may use the sea to power up. According to the Costa Rican Institute of Electricity, the Central American nation is exploring the possibility of using waves and tides as power generators to cover its future electricity needs (Estrategia y Negocios – Spanish).


The outgoing Guatemalan president okayed a new hydroelectric plant. Before leaving office, President Jimmy Morales approved the installation of the 40MW hydroelectric plant Central Rocja Pontila in Cobán, Alta Verapaz (El Periódico – Spanish). The company Proyecto de Desarrollo Integral Pontila will be allowed to use the Icbolay river’s flow.


Anguilla’s mobile renewable storage pilot is up and running. Anguilla installed a 125kW mobile containerized battery system from Gridspan Energy (New Energy Events – English). The battery can be quickly deployed across the island to avoid power disruptions. Gridspan Energy has fully funded this pilot project in order to demonstrate the technology.


The Bahamas will boost renewables with the IDB’s help. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) approved a US$170m Conditional Credit Line for Investment Project (CCLIP) to increase the installation of renewable energy in The Bahamas (IADB – English). The project will rehabilitate critical energy infrastructure affected by Hurricane Dorian.



Old School Social


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


The SPE Latin American and Caribbean Petroleum Engineering Conference is scheduled for March 17-19 in Bogotá.



Lateral Thinking


The Greater Caribbean is working on gender. With IDB support, Belize will work to improve the quality and gender equity of education (IADB – English). In Bermuda, Coral Wells of Connec Tech launched a chapter of Girls in Tech to eradicate gender disparities in the high-tech sector (Royal Gazette – English).



Quote of the Week


“I knew I would be somebody and do something worthwhile in life. I often met people who lived in my mind, people whose touch I felt on my cheek and on my arm. I called them my mind ghosts and was sure that they were my ancestors, whom Auntie Bet so often called up in prayer. My protectors, they brought me ideas, principles and truth.”



– Beryl Gilroy (1924-2001), Guayanese teacher, novelist, and poet.





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