The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


February 4, 2019 edition–Colombia’s floating solar; Cuba’s oil well; and the US sanctions in the Caribbean.




Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. El Salvador asks CEL to control power through a PPP; Central America will pay more for fuel; and the IMF is concerned about the Nicaraguan crisis.


Greater Antilles. An Australian and a Chinese company will drill in Cuba; the Dominican Republic fuel deliveries are slowed by Haiti’s demand; and the Jamaican government considers asset privatization.


Lesser Antilles. Dominica will power up its population with geothermal energy; and the IMF visited Curaçao and Sint Maarten.


South America’s Caribbean Coast. Innova Capital plans the first floating solar installation; Total has big plans for the world, including Guyana; and the Venezuelan crisis deepens.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in Curaçao’s choice of an oil-refinery operator (English); Bonaire’s energy storage (English); and debates over Puerto Rico’s natural gas deal (English).



Political Economy


The IMF visited Curaçao and Sint Maarten… The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said the economic conditions in both islands are deteriorating, with the deficit reaching 3.5% of GDP in both Curaçao and Sint Maarten in 2017. Economic growth is expected to return in 2019 (English).


…and is worried about the Nicaraguan crisis. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is concerned about the effect of the Nicaraguan crisis on the growth of Central America (Spanish). Social dissatisfaction and political uncertainty affect the growth outlook of the country and the region.


The Jamaican government considers asset privatization. Prime Minister Andrew Holness said the government will be reviewing the assets under its portfolio to make them available to the private sector (English). The goal is to boost economic growth in a competitive and transparent process.


St. Lucia faces a motion of no confidence. The parliamentary opposition presented a motion of no confidence in Saint Lucia’s Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, to be debated the last week of January (English). Three out of the 11 elected government members of parliament will have to vote openly in parliament in favor of the motion.


Venezuela’s crisis deepens. European leaders voted to recognize President Juan Guaidó as the head of state (English). According to a senior official, Venezuela will sell 15 tons of gold to the United Arab Emirates in the coming days in return for cash (English).



Oil & Gas Upstream


The US sanctions on PDVSA are not affecting the oil market…yet. The Saudi Energy Minister said the Venezuelan crisis has not affected the oil market and expects OPEC/non-OPEC participants to follow the latest crude production cut (English). Rystad Energy said the effects of the US sanctions against PDVSA will not be as severe as the US expects (English).


Total has big plans for the world, including Guyana. The French company plans to drill 23 wells in 2019 in Brazil, Guyana, Mauritania, Namibia, Senegal, and South Africa (English). Total will focus its efforts on emerging and mature basins, which possibly offer a greater chance of success.


An Australian and a Chinese company will drill in Cuba. Melbana Energy partnered with Anhui Modestinner Energy to develop drilling operations in the exploration well Alameda 1 in Cuba (English). The Alameda well is the highest target in block 9 and is close to the Varadero field.



Oil & Gas Downstream


PDVSA’s creditors are hunting oil in the Caribbean. Suppliers are using courts to block PDVSA’s tankers from leaving ports until the company pays its bills (English). Venezuela’s oil inventories have started to accumulate at the country’s ports and terminals, as PDVSA cannot export crude due to US sanctions (English).


Central America will pay more for fuel. Oil prices are increasing in Central America after OPEC agreed to cut production by 1.2 million barrels per day (Spanish). Costa Rica would pay US$3.64 per gallon of regular gasoline; Guatemala, US$2.73; Honduras, US$3.17; Nicaragua, US$3.31; and Panamá, US$2.56.


Haitian fuel demand is slowing deliveries in the Dominican Republic… The Dominican Petroleum Refinery PDV (Refidomsa) is taking more time to fill its tankers with fuel as it attends to the demand from the distribution companies that supply Haiti (English). Refidomsa denied the accusations, and no explanation was provided regarding Haiti’s higher demand.


…but the DR is not concerned about Venezuela’s crisis. Economy Minister Isidoro Santana said the country is not concerned about the fuel supply or changing fuel prices due to the political crisis in Venezuela (Spanish). The Dominican Republic imports fuel from other parts of the world.


Cuba is affected by Venezuela’s fuel shortages. PDVSA supplies Cuba with 98,000 barrels per day of crude and refined products under a deal signed by both nations, but they could be affected by the sanctions (English). Cuba receives 550,000 barrels of 0.5% sulfur diesel and 720,000 barrels of light crude oil every month.



Renewables & Electricity


El Salvador asks CEL to control power through a PPP. The Public Works Ministry requested the Legislative Assembly to allow the Hydroelectric Commission of the Lempa River (CEL) to temporarily manage the power system through a public-private partnership (PPP) (Spanish). The ministry explained that the company hired to manage the system did not fulfill its obligations.


Puerto Rico’s power is debated. The approval of the PREB’s contract to convert the San Juan power complex to use natural gas was considered an amendment to the electric utility’s integrated resource plan (IRP) (English). The head of Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) is certain the utility will not be put into receivership (English).


Dominica will power up its population with geothermal energy. The Energy Minister presented plans to build a geothermal plant in the third quarter to power up 23,000 homes, 90% of the population (English). The plant would be located in the capital city of Roseau.


The Dominican Republic will regulate radioactive material. The Energy and Mines Ministry and the National Commission of Energy are working to develop regulations for the Safe Transportation of Radioactive Material (Spanish). The goal is to ensure safety and radiological protection in the reception and transportation of radioactive materials.


Innova Capital plans the first floating solar installation. The Colombian subsidiary of Innova Capital Partners plans to develop and install the first floating solar plant in the Caribbean. Ciel & Terre will be the technology partner to install a 74-kWp floating solar system on the Fresh Water Bay dam in Providencia (English), Colombia.



Old School Social


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


RECAM is scheduled for March 5-7 at the Hilton Panamá Hotel, in Panama City.



Lateral Thinking


PO8 won the Creative Business Cup Award. PO8, a Bahamian tech company that leverages blockchain technology to recover sunken artifacts from the ocean floors (English), won the Creative Business Cup Award at Demand Solutions 2018. The company beat out over 250 tech companies from 23 countries.



Quote of the Week


“La palabra impresa embalsama la verdad para la posteridad.”


“The printed word embalms truth for posterity.”



– Alejo Carpentier (1904-1980) Cuban novelist and essayist.



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