The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


February 26, 2018 edition—The Bahamas’ new oil refinery; Jamaica’s oil onshore; and Puerto Rico’s loan for power.




Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. South Korea signed a free trade agreement with Central American countries; Canada eyes Nicaragua’s energy; and Fitch believes in Panamá’s investment grade.


Greater Antilles. Cuba will adopt a single currency; Jamaica found oil onshore; and Puerto Rico is changing its power.


Lesser Antilles. The Bahamas will have a new oil refinery and storage facility; Barbados will renew its natural gas infrastructure; and Citgo slowed down Aruba’s refinery revamp.


South America’s Caribbean Coast. Tensions between Guyana and Venezuela are increasing; Venezuela finally issued the Petro; and Eco (Atlantic) goes after Eco (Guyana).


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in the US’ help facing Venezuela’s sanctions (English); Guyana’s oil refinery (English); and Colombia’s protests shutting oil fields (English).



Political Economy


The IMF concluded its mission in the Dominican Republic and El Salvador. The Dominican economy continues to perform well, growing 4.6% in 2017 (English). The IMF will publish a statement on El Salvador’s economic growth once revised statistics are released (English).


Fitch is confident in Panamá. The international rating agency ratified Panamá’s BBB investment rating (Spanish) with a stable outlook. Fitch based its forecast on the country’s strong macroeconomic performance.


The IDB had a busy week in the Caribbean. The member countries of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in the Central American isthmus and the Dominican Republic discussed strategies to achieve economic growth (English) and manage vulnerability to natural disasters. The IDB launched a call for proposals for the Regional Public Goods (RPG) Initiative in Latin America and the Caribbean (English).


Cuba will adopt a single currency. President Raul Castro said the adoption of a single currency has taken “too long and it cannot be delayed any longer.” The original national peso will remain (English) and the CUC, used for foreign trade and in the tourism industry, will be abandoned.


South Korea signed a free trade agreement with (most of) Central America. South Korea and Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panamá signed a free trade agreement opening the exchange of farming and industrial goods (Spanish). Guatemala continued negotiations with South Korea, emphasizing the protection of its farming and industrial sector.



Oil & Gas Upstream


Venezuela’s Petro is finally out. Venezuela launched its version of Bitcoin backed by Venezuela’s crude oil reserves (English). Venezuela plans to issue 100 million digital tokens to fight US sanctions that prevented the country from issuing new debt.


Eco’s subsidiary, Eco, consolidated its ownership of Eco. Eco (Atlantic) Oil & Gas announced that Eco (Guyana) Oil and Gas (Barbados), agreed to acquire the outstanding 6% interest in Eco (Atlantic) Guyana, making it a wholly-owned subsidiary of the wholly-owned subsidiary. Eco Guyana holds a 40% working interest in the Orinduik Block (English).


Tensions between Guyana and Venezuela are on the rise. Guyana sent Guyanese Defense Force (GDF) personnel to the border to monitor and repel Venezuelan gangs that may destabilize the region (English). The Venezuelan “Sindicato” gang has attacked civilians in and around the border area, fighting over gold and oil deposits.


Jamaica found black gold onshore. CGG GeoConsulting and the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) announced the discovery of two oil seeps from different parts of the island (English). Tullow Oil has held a license in Jamaica’s southern shallow waters since 2014.



Oil & Gas Downstream


The Bahamas will have a new oil refinery and storage facility. The Bahamas government approved Oban Energies to start building an oil refinery and oil storage facility on Grand Bahama (English). The project will cost over US$4bn and will create 600 direct jobs and 1,000 indirect jobs during its construction.


Barbados will give a makeover to its natural gas infrastructure. Energy Minister Darcy Boyce said a natural gas infrastructure update (English) should reduce operational costs for the Barbados National Oil Company and the National Petroleum Corporation. The Inter-American Development Bank will fund the project with a US$34m loan.


Citgo hit the brakes on Aruba’s refinery. Citgo Petroleum slowed the maintenance work being done on its 235,000-barrel-per-day refinery in Aruba (English). The reason is the lack of financing due to US sanctions on Venezuela’s oil company, affecting many oil projects that PDVSA and its subsidiaries operate.



Renewables & Electricity


Puerto Rico is changing its power scene… Governor Ricardo Rosselló withdrew his support for the Arecibo Resource Recovery Project (English). Energy Answers noted that this was unfortunate, considering the US$20m investment. A federal judge approved a US$300m loan for Puerto Rico’s power company (English) to keep the agency operating until the end of March.


… and the DR will transform the energy sector in 2018. The Energy Minister promised changes in the power sector, and all of the energy sector institutions will work together to envision an efficient, competitive system (Spanish). In 2018, the Energy and Mines Ministry will assume more functions in the sector.


The DR said no to generating power in a garbage dump. Citizens and associations from Guazumal rejected the permission given by the Tamboril city council (Spanish) to install an energy generation plant and wood production facility in a dumping site. Glota Bussines S.R.L. was planning to invest US$20m.


Canada eyes Nicaragua’s energy. Canadian businessmen visited Nicaragua to explore business opportunities in different areas and investment in renewable energy (Spanish). The Canadian businessmen met representatives from the Environment and Natural Resources Ministry to present a renewable energy generation proposal.



Old School Social


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


Recam is scheduled for March 6-8 at the Hilton Hotel in Panama City.


CLER Forum 2018 will be held March 14-16 at the Intercontinental Buenos Aires, in Buenos Aires.



Lateral Thinking


The CDB and UNICEF will improve Caribbean children’s education. International and regional researchers discussed plans to improve the quality and access to early childhood education (English) for Caribbean children. Research concluded that the Caribbean invests too little in early education, considering the correlation between investment in early childhood development and economic development.



Quote of the Week


“I have a serious word for the hundreds of thousands of friends the Bahamas has in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, the West Indies and throughout the free world; that word is: have faith in us.”



-Lynden Pindling (1929-2000), regarded as the “Father of the Nation” of the Bahamas.



We hope you have a productive week. Please send any news, comments, or early childhood education strategies to


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