The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


February 24, 2020 edition– New Fortress in Nicaragua; PDVSA restructuring; and T&T refinery sale negotiations.




Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. New Fortress will build a power plant in Nicaragua; AES Panamá has big solar plans; and Celsia cut the ribbon on a big solar roof in Honduras.


Greater Antilles / Northern Islands. Bermuda plans to boost renewables; PDVSA sent more fuel shipments to fuel-starving Cuba; and the Dominican Republic will launch a 1,000MW gas tender.


Lesser Antilles / Southern Islands. Trinidad & Tobago continues the oil refinery sale negotiations; and Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago will explore for oil together.


South America’s Caribbean Coast. ExxonMobil and the Noble drillships will have more time together; Ecopetrol will develop a solar farm; and Maduro is restructuring Venezuela’s oil industry.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in New Fortress’s cheaper line of fuel (Loop Jamaica – English); and Citgo’s executives imprisonment (CNN – English).



Government & NGO


The Dominican Republic’s electoral fiasco may hit its economy. After half of the electronic voting system equipment failed, municipal elections were suspended, and people protested in several Dominican cities (Dominican Today – English). The failure may harm confidence in the Dominican Republic’s economy (Diario Libre – Spanish).


Colombia’s GDP grew 3.3% last year. Colombia’s economy grew 3.3% in 2019, boosted by domestic consumption (El Economista – Spanish). It was the best performance in the last five years, being one of the economies in the region with accelerating growth in 2019.


Moody’s downgraded Nicaragua’s rating to B3. The international rating agency lowered Nicaragua’s rating from B2 to B3 as a result of decline in economic strength and the difficulty the country could face to access new funds (La Prensa – Spanish).


The CDB expects the Caribbean economy to grow 4.1%. The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) forecasts 4.1% growth for the Caribbean region in 2020, with Guyana dominating the region’s growth (Jamaica Observer – English). The CDB predicts 2% growth for the Bahamas this year (Tribune 242 – English).


The IMF expects good things from Panamá. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects Panamá’s economy to rebound in 2020, remaining among the most dynamic in the region. The IMF recommends continued consolidation efforts to ensure debt sustainability (IMF – English).



Oil & Gas Upstream


ExxonMobil and the Noble drillships will work together longer. ExxonMobil and Noble Corp executed a commercial enabling agreement to drill in the Guyana-Suriname basin using certain units in Noble’s fleet (OGJ – English). The Noble Bob Douglas, Noble Tom Madden, and Noble Don Taylor are currently drilling for the company offshore Guyana.


Nicaragua’s private sector does not appreciate Ortega’s new companies. The private sector described the government’s creation of new companies to exploit oil and import gas and fuels as unfair competition, as the state-owned companies will be free of taxes (Central America Data – Spanish).


Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago will team up to find oil. Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago’s leaders signed the second phase in a three-phase shared economic zone agreement to develop seismic exploration at their border and operate any oil- and/or gas-producing reservoirs together (Barbados Today – English).


Guyana produced 35,607 bpd in December. According to the Finance Ministry, the Caribbean nation produced 35,607 barrels of oil daily in December, and the government’s royalty on that oil production will be 2% (Oil Price – English). Guyana’s addition as a non-OPEC producer may endanger the group’s global oil control.


Maduro is restructuring Venezuela’s oil industry. President Nicolás Maduro announced the creation of a presidential commission to restructure the oil industry, which will be led by Tareck El Aissami, vice president for the Economy (Reuters – English). The goal will be to boost crude production (Bloomberg – English).



Liquid Fuels Mid-Downstream


PDVSA is looking for crude buyers. PDVSA has 677,000 barrels per day of crude to sell from February’s output, but no buyers are purchasing them because of US sanctions (Platts – English). PDVSA is also offering to pay debts with crude to creditors, but no one is interested.


Guyana will lift its first crude entitlement from Liza field. According to Guyana’s energy department, the Cap Philippe crude oil tanker lifted the first 1 million-barrel crude entitlement from the offshore Liza field (Platts – English). Guyana expects to have at least five cargoes lifted in 2020.


Trinidad & Tobago continues to negotiate the sale of its oil refinery. Trinidad & Tobago said negotiations and discussions “in good faith” with Patriotic Energies and Technologies continue regarding the sale of Petrotrin’s oil refinery. Patriotic Energies asked to visit the plant with a team of experts (CBC – English).


PDVSA sent more fuel shipments to fuel-starving Cuba. Venezuela’s state-owned company shipped more oil to Cuba as the US sanctions have produced tougher fuel shortages on the island (Reuters – English). The Cuban government warned citizens of a shortage in cooking gas (CGTN – English).


The US announced sanctions against Rosneft for supporting Maduro. The Trump administration accused the Russian oil firm of supporting the Maduro regime, concealing shipments and handling half of Venezuela’s oil exports, and announced sanctions against it (Platts – English). The sanctions could be a sign that Chevron’s waiver may not be renewed (Platts – English).


A wayward 950,000-barrel cargo returned to Venezuela. The 950,000 barrels of crude that were loaded in January 2019 never reached a destination because of the escalation of US sanctions against Venezuela. The traveling crude has now docked at the port of Jose in Venezuela after a year at sea (Oil price – English).



Natural Gas Mid-Downstream & LNG


The LNG market is changing, and Latin America may be a good option. LNG producers were encouraged to look toward Latin America as an alternative to Europe. Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico could offer some opportunities for LNG suppliers (Platts – English).


New Fortress will build a power plant in Nicaragua. New Fortress Energy and Nicaragua signed a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Distribuidora de Electricidad del Norte, Nicaragua’s power distribution companies, committing to construct a 300MW natural gas-powered plant and to supply it (Kallanish Energy – English).


The Dominican Republic will launch a 1,000MW gas tender. The country’s power regulator SIE approved an international public auction to supply 1,000MW from new combined cycle natural gas-fired projects (BN Americas – English). The call will be divided into one block for 700MW and another for 300MW.



Electric Power & Renewables


Celsia and Zip Búfalo cut the ribbon on a big solar roof in Honduras. Celsia installed its first solar roof project in the Zip Búfalo industrial park in Villanueva, Cortés. The solar system was installed over ten buildings covering 30,000 square meters and could generate 5,640 MWh per year (PV-Magazine – Spanish).


Nicaragua’s Disnorte-Dissur will control solar self-supply. According to the rules of renewable generation for self-supply, solar panels in Nicaraguan homes will be regulated by Disnorte-Dissur. Experts warn that the new rule will slow down the self-supply process (La Prensa – Spanish).


Bermuda plans to boost renewables. Solar providers, the Planning Department, and the Home Affairs Minister met to discuss small commercial sites, larger solar farms, and regulations including the feed-in tariff (Royal Gazette – English). The goal is to become an island with thousands of energy producers (Royal Gazette – English).


AES Panamá has big solar plans. AES Panamá will invest US$50m in four solar parks with an installed capacity of 10MW each (Central America Data – Spanish). The parks will be located in the Herrera, Los Santos, and Chiriquí provinces and will be developed by Elecnor.


Ecopetrol will develop a solar farm. The Colombian oil company will build a 50MW solar park in the Meta department (Renewable Now – English). Cenit, Ecopetrol’s fuel transport subsidiary, will own the solar park that will be operational by December 2020.


Guatemala’s power has some pending issues in the capital and in rural areas. A failure in a substation left several areas of Guatemala’s capital without power (El Periódico – Spanish). EEGSA has a new plan to power up rural areas (El Periódico – Spanish).



Old School Social


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


The ECPA Ministerial will be held February 27-28 at Montego Bay Convention Center in Jamaica.


The REFFLatAm 2020 is scheduled for March 16 at 1 Hotel South Beach in Miami, Florida.


The SPE Latin American and Caribbean Petroleum Engineering Conference will be held March 17-19 in Bogotá.



Lateral Thinking


Scientists ask to protect Caribbean sharks. According to a Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences’ marine scientist, governments should offer larger spatial protection in the Caribbean to highly migratory species such as sharks (Cayman Compass – English). Sharks are rare in many Caribbean nations due to decades of unregulated overharvest.



Quote of the Week


“La experiencia de la vida es la pasión de beberla hasta la embriaguez profunda, cantar, bailar, decir versos hermosos y luego dormir.”



“The experience of life is the passion of drinking it until getting deeply drunk, singing, dancing, saying beautiful poetry and then sleeping.”



– Gioconda Belli (1948), Nicaraguan poet and novelist.




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