The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


February 8, 2020 edition–St. Croix’s refinery working; ExxonMobil’s flaring; and Nicaragua’s natural gas plant.


Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. New Fortress Energy started the construction of Nicaragua’s natural gas plant; Panamá’s generation dropped 5%; and Banco Davivienda El Salvador and IDB will invest in green projects.


Greater Antilles / Northern Islands. Camagüey is getting just enough LP gas; the Dominican Republic okayed US$155m for power; and the Dominican Republic’s central bank kept the interest rate steady.


Lesser Antilles / Southern Islands. Fisterra Energy will bet on Trinidad’s Hydrogen project; the St. Croix refinery is up and running; and Martinique plans to be totally green by 2030.


South America’s Caribbean Coast. ExxonMobil increased flaring in Guyana; Venezuela’s oil production went up in January; and Colombia extended the fracking deadline.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in Dominican Republic’s 700MW power plants (Dominican Today – English); Central America’s natural gas plants (BN Americas – English); and Dominican Republic’s technological border (Dominican Today – English).



Government & NGO


The Dominican Republic’s central bank kept the interest rate steady. The Central Bank of the Dominican Republic maintained its interest rate at 3% (Diario Libre – Spanish). The bank explained that the decision is based on an exhaustive analysis of the COVID-19 impact on economic activity and the future evolution of inflation.


Cuba’s Trinidad faces some economic development troubles. The Trinidad municipality evaluated the reach of the strategies to reactivate productive sectors, territorial auto-supply, population planning, and COVID-19 control (Escambray – Spanish). The local government has identified deficiencies in agricultural activity, investments, and job creation.


Panamá created five tax-free areas. The Central American nation approved the creation of five new tax-free areas that project an investment of US$21.9m and the generation of more than 10,000 jobs (Diario Libre – Spanish). The goal is to attract foreign investment to reactivate the economy.


Dominica strengthened its healthcare infrastructure. The Caribbean nation is constructing 12 new health centers as part of a broader mission to strengthen its healthcare infrastructure and provide citizens with higher-quality services (Street Insider – English). Dominica is also in the process of constructing a state-of-the-art hospital.


Latin America wants in on ICG. Chile and the Dominican Republic are the latest countries to join the International Contact Group (ICG) on Venezuela, highlighting the growing distance from US sanctions-based policy (Argus Media – English). Along with Peru, Argentina, and Brazil, Chile and Colombia had been among the core members of the Lima Group pressuring Maduro to step down.



Oil & Gas Upstream


ExxonMobil increased flaring in Guyana. ExxonMobil increased flaring of natural gas at the oil production vessel offshore Guyana because of problems with the gas compressor on Liza Destiny (Newsroom – English). The company had agreed with local authorities that gas flaring would be kept at a limit of 15 million-cubic feet per day.


Venezuela’s oil production went up in January. Average crude output by PDVSA and its foreign partners in January rose to 520,000 barrels per day, or 100,000 barrels per day more than in December (Platts – English). No information was available on the number of wells that were repaired in January.


Colombia extended the fracking deadline. Colombia expanded the deadline for oil and gas companies to present proposals in the second licensing round for fracking pilots until March 8 (BN Americas – English). A preliminary order of eligibility will be announced on March 23.


Touchstone had a good 2020. The Canadian oil and gas company experienced an excellent year in 2020, thanks to drilling successes onshore in Trinidad and the signing of a five-year deal with the National Gas Company (NGC) (Trinidad Express – English).


Oil and gas investment fell in Colombia in 2020… Investment in the oil and gas industry in Colombia fell 49% to US$2.05bn last year, the lowest since 2016, due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on global fuel demand (Hellenic Shipping News – English).


…but 2021 could be its year. Naturgas’ CEO has identified projects for US$2.9bn that include US$1.2bn in exploration and production and a little more than US$1.6bn in infrastructure for gas transportation (Semana – Spanish). Naturgas is also enthusiastic about hydrogen.



Liquid Fuels Mid-Downstream


The St. Croix refinery is up and running. EIG Global Energy Partners completed its restart of an idled refinery previously owned and operated by Hovensa at Limetree Bay on St. Croix, US Virgin Islands (OGJ – English). The refinery has a processing capacity of more than 200,000 barrels per day.


Camagüey is getting just enough LP gas. The Camagüey Fuel Sale company is working to guarantee supply at all LP gas points of sale in the province and avoid a shortage (Adelante – Spanish). The distributors were asked to be careful to avoid COVID-19 infections by following cleaning protocols.


Venezuela’s oil exports rose thanks to new clients. PDVSA’s new customers helped the state oil company increase exports in January (Reuters – English). In January, a total of 22 tankers left Venezuelan ports transporting crude and refined products for exports, mainly to China and other Asian destinations.



Natural Gas Mid-Downstream & LNG


New Fortress Energy started the construction of Nicaragua’s natural gas plant. In Nicaragua, the US company started the construction of the natural gas plant that would have a generation capacity of 300MW (Central America Data – Spanish). New Fortress Energy expects the plant to start operations between May and June.


Trinidad & Tobago will use natural gas as a transition fuel. The Energy and Energy Industries Minister asked technocrats not to ignore the importance of natural gas as a clean and sustainable transition fuel (Newsday – English). The minister emphasized that the Caribbean nation is an oil-and-gas-based economy.


ExxonMobil’s natural gas will help out Guyana’s climate goals. Guyana will process large volumes of natural gas from the Exxon’s Stabroek block and generate electricity fueled by natural gas in a power plant planned for the processing site (Forbes – English).



Electric Power & Renewables


The Dominican Republic okayed US$155m for power. The Senate approved a US$155m loan for the electricity sector to be carried out by the Dominican State Electric Utility’s Execution Unit (Dominican Today – English). The initiative was submitted on February 13, 2020, with financing signed by the Dominican government with the IDB.


The ICE will not renew private power contracts. The Costa Rican Institute of Electricity (ICE) announced that, considering the drop in economic activity in 2020 and forecast for 2021 due to COVID-19, the private generator contracts would not be renewed (PV Magazine – Spanish).


Banco Davivienda El Salvador and IDB will invest in green projects. Banco Davivienda Salvadoreno will receive a loan package of up to US$100m from IDB Invest to boost its capabilities to finance green projects and support small and medium-sized enterprises in the Central American nation (Renewables Now – English).


Martinique plans to be totally green by 2030. The Energy Transition Law established a goal to reach energy autonomy by 2030 in Martinique (France Antilles – Spanish). The Transition Energy Agency (Ademe) considered the optimum production mix, the geographical distribution of resources, and the cost of power production.


Panamá’s generation dropped 5%. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, power generation in 2020 reached 10,623 million kwh, 5% less than the amount reported in 2019 (Central America Data – Spanish). Last year, renewable energy sources, including hydroelectric, wind, and solar energy, accounted for 8,087 million kwh.


GEB and Ecopetrol fight over Isa. Grupo de Energía de Bogotá is taking on Ecopetrol in a battle for control of Isa, the electricity transmission giant (Argus Media – English). GEB has held negotiations with financial institutions to secure loans for the deal.


Fisterra Energy will bet on Trinidad’s hydrogen project. Fisterra Energy SLU announced a partnership with Kenesjay Green Limited to develop KGL’s first major hydrogen project, NewGen (BN Americas – English). The project design anticipates hydrogen production capacity of 27,200 tons per year by 2024.



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 Island Energy Transformation Training Series Session 2 is scheduled for February 9.


The 5th Caribbean Infrastructure Forum will be held March 24-25.


The Hydrogen Congress for Latin America & the Caribbean – H2LAC is rescheduled for April 14-15.



Lateral Thinking


New Fortress Energy launched a STEM boxed kit for middle school students. The Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust collaborated with New Fortress Energy to launch the STEM Boxed Kit Experience: Energy Edition, a school program reaching 200 middle school students from the San Juan area focusing on energy fundamentals (NimB – English).



Quote of the Week


“The point is not to pay back kindness but to pass it on.”



– Julia Álvarez (1950), Dominican-American poet, novelist, and essayist.


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