The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


February 11, 2019 edition–Hess’ discoveries; Colombia’s changed tender; and Central America’s power auctions.




Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. Guatemala is improving its transmission lines; Central America will offer power auctions; and Nicaragua’s tax reform hit renewables.


Greater Antilles. US companies will bet on the Dominican Republic; and the Dominican Republic will boost renewables.


Lesser Antilles. Trinidad and Tobago plans to increase gas production; Bermudians will enjoy Belco’s battery storage facility; and Dominica and the WB negotiate on geothermal plant funding.


South America’s Caribbean Coast. Colombia modified its oil tender to increase output; Hess hit black gold again in Guyana; and Venezuela’s oil output will drop by the end of this month.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in the IMF’s opinion of Curaçao and Sint Maarten (English); the effect of the US sanctions on the oil market (English); and Total’s exploration plans (English).



Political Economy


The Venezuelan crisis deepens. Mike Pompeo accused President Maduro of blocking the arrival of humanitarian aid into Venezuela (English). Venezuelan opposition supporters poured into the streets hoping to capitalize on the international pressure against Maduro (English) with the EU (English) and Canada’s support of Guaidó (English).


A Jamaican opposition member of Parliament was murdered. The police are investigating the murder of Dr. Lynvale Bloomfield, an opposition member of parliament, who was found dead with multiple stab wounds (English). The police are working to determine a motive or the circumstances surrounding the murder.


Nicaragua’s tax reform hit renewables. The proposal to reform the tax law will affect clean generation as solar panels and batteries will be charged VAT (Spanish), which the Law to Promote Power Generation with Renewable Sources said was free of that tax. The Nicaraguan Energy Chamber rejected the reform, considering it a step backward.


US companies will bet on the Dominican Republic. The US and the Dominican Republic governments agreed to facilitate investments of US companies in the Caribbean through the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) (English). The agreement eases the use of the OPIC’s loan guarantee and political risk insurance programs.


The Colombian president will visit Trump. President Trump will receive President Iván Duque Márquez in the White House to discuss economic cooperation and the political crisis in Venezuela (English). The Duque administration has been working with the Venezuelan opposition leader Guaidó.



Oil & Gas Upstream


Colombia modified its oil tenders to increase output. Colombia relaunched the bidding of offshore oil and gas exploration contracts for 20 possible production areas (English). The National Hydrocarbons Agency (ANH) said the new system will allow companies to bid on areas that interest them.


Hess hit black gold again in Guyana. The ExxonMobil-led consortium made two discoveries offshore Guyana, called Haimara and Tilapia (English). Tilapia-1 is the fourth discovery in the area around Turbot. Haimara-1 is located 19 miles east of the Pluma-1 well.


Trinidad and Tobago plans to increase gas production. Trinidad and Tobago will boost gas production to reach 3.9 billion cubic feet per day in 2019 (English). The country plans to stabilize gas production over the period 2020 through 2023 at 4 billion cubic feet per day.


Amerisur Resources started working on Calao-1X well in Colombia. Amerisur Resources started drilling the Calao-1X exploration well in the CPO-5 block on February 1st (English). Calao-1X is the second well to be drilled from the Indico pad, with a planned total measured depth of 11,940 feet.


Frontera and Parex partnered up in Colombia. Frontera signed a farm-in agreement with Parex Resources, receiving a 50% working interest in the VIM-1 Block in the Lower Magdalena Valley basin (English). In exchange, Frontera will fund 100% of the first US$10m of the drilling.


Venezuela’s oil output will drop by the end of this month. Venezuela’s already reduced oil production is expected to fall by more than a quarter in the following weeks. The reason is the effect of the US sanctions on the import of the diluent needed to extract extra heavy crude (English).



Oil & Gas Downstream


Europe may enjoy the effect of Venezuela’s sanctions… The European market has found increasingly cheap offers of Venezuelan crude in the Mediterranean (English). Mediterranean refineries do not normally buy Venezuelan crude, and no one is bidding due to Trump’s sanctions on Venezuela’s payments.


…and Valero Energy found a replacement in Canada. As sanctions cut the shipments from Venezuela, Valero Energy boosted the volume of heavy Canadian crude processing in its refining system in the fourth quarter of 2018 (English). Valero must replace Venezuelan crude at two of its US Gulf Coast refineries.


St. Vincent asked for an audit of PetroCaribe. The opposition leader in St. Vincent and the Grenadines called for an audit of the PetroCaribe program in the country (English). The goal is to analyze the funds that were collected and spent.


PDVSA started partial rationing of gasoline. PDVSA began a partial rationing of gasoline at gas stations in certain regions of Venezuela. Some gas stations in Caracas ran out of fuel as clients filled their tanks, anticipating shortages (English).


Guaidó plans to appoint heads of PDVSA and Citgo. Juan Guaidó announced he will appoint Gustavo Baquero as president of PDVSA (English). Guaidó is considering a new board for Citgo to reduce the Maduro government’s income from oil (English).



Renewables & Electricity


Guatemala is improving its transmission lines. The company Transportista Eléctrica Centroamericana cut the ribbon on the power line uniting the substations of Iztapa and Taxisco (Spanish). The line is part of the D Lot of the National Transmission Expansion Plan that started in 2015 with an investment of Q563m (Spanish).


Central America will offer power auctions. The Empresa Eléctrica de Guatemala plans three auctions to supply energy for one, four, and 15 years (Spanish). The Empresa Nacional de Energía Eléctrica de Honduras opened up the opportunity for international bids to provide 17MW of electric energy and capacity for a year (Spanish).


Dominica and the WB negotiate on geothermal plant funding. The Dominican government and the World Bank negotiated the US$2m from SIDS DOCK and the US$17.2m from the World Bank at 0.75% with a 10-year moratorium grace period and 15-year repayment period to fund Dominica’s geothermal energy development (English).


Martinique works on power transition. An old EDF power plant was converted into an exhibition to understand the effects of climate change and the need for power transition on the island (French). New companies will show advanced technologies to boost energy transition on the island to achieve power autonomy by 2030.


Bermudians will enjoy Belco’s battery storage facility. Belco is building a Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) to reduce costs and provide more reliable electricity supply (English). The power stored in the lithium-ion batteries will kick into the grid within 50 milliseconds, and the batteries will have a 20-year lifespan (English).


The Dominican Republic will boost renewables. The energy sector regulators approved actions to propel renewable energies. The recommendations and the rules on generation projects will be key references for the auction to purchase renewable power by the Corporación Dominicana de Empresas Eléctricas Estatales (CDEEE) (Spanish).



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


Debates surround the Caribbean sharks. In the Caribbean, overexploitation has created a growing concern for the shark population’s health. The science of shark ecology is still being developed (English), but the Bahamas have maintained a shark population, and researchers are studying if shark sanctuaries are good for the animals or not.



Quote of the Week


“There’s nothing more exciting for an actor than a chance to lose, to be someone who has lost – especially if it’s someone who starts off with a veneer of control.”


– Lena Headey (1973) English actress born in Bermuda who plays Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones.



We hope you have a productive week. Please send any news, comments, or Caribbean shark photos to


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