The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


January 13, 2020 edition– Apache and Total’s find in Suriname; Martinique’s geothermal; and El Salvador’s growth.




Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. The World Bank expects El Salvador and Costa Rica to grow in tandem.


Greater Antilles / Northern Islands. Puerto Rico’s Prepa restructuring hearing was delayed yet again; the Dominican Republic’s Central Bank reflected on inflation; and Bermuda is working on a public-private renewable energy coalition.


Lesser Antilles / Southern Islands. Martinique is seriously considering going for geothermal energy; Barbados and the Bahamas may turn waste into power; and doubts surround Shell’s power plant in the Bahamas.


South America’s Caribbean Coast. PDVSA handed over oil field operations to foreign firms; Apache and Total made a “significant” oil and gas find in Suriname; and Guyana’s opposition plans to renegotiate oil contracts.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in a natural gas plant in El Salvador (El Mundo – Spanish); the conversion of 750MW to natural gas in the Dominican Republic (Dominican Today – English); and the Maersk Drilling contract in Trinidad & Tobago (Energy Now – English).



Government & NGO


The Lima Group backs Guaidó’s re-election. Except for Mexico and Argentina, the Lima Group supported the re-election of Juan Guaidó as head of Venezuela’s congress after Nicolás Maduro’s government forced a separate vote to impose a new leader (Reuters – English).


Puerto Rico is in a state of emergency after earthquakes. Gov. Wanda Vázquez declared a state of emergency for the island after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake caused heavy damage and power outages (Caribbean Business – English). Half of the population has already recovered power service, and the system should be stable by Jan. 12 (Diario Libre – Spanish).


The World Bank expects the same growth from El Salvador and Costa Rica. The World Bank forecasted a 2.5% growth of El Salvador’s economy, a point above the expected rate for 2019 (El Mundo – Spanish). The same percentage was assigned to Costa Rica’s economic growth, after closing 2019 with 2% growth (Nación – Spanish).


The Dominican Republic’s Central Bank reflected on inflation. The Dominican Republic’s Central Bank announced that inflation increased 0.20% in December 2019 compared to the previous month in 2019. Inflation in 2019 ended at 3.66%, below the 4.0% goal established in the monetary program (Diario Libre – Spanish).



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Oil & Gas Upstream


PDVSA handed over oil field operations to foreign firms. Due to sanctions and the lack of cash and staff, PDVSA has relinquished its operations at oil fields to foreign firms (The Daily Herald – English). PDVSA’s production has fallen to a third of its peak.


Apache and Total made a “significant” oil and gas find in Suriname. Apache and France announced that they have found a significant discovery offshore Suriname with 240 feet of oil pay and 164 feet of light oil and gas condensate pay at 3,280 feet (Platts – English).


Tullow’s latest discovery in Guyana is less promising than expected. The Carapa-1 exploration well found approximately 4 meters of net oil pay, and it is of much better quality than the oil found in the Joe and Jethro wells in the Orinduik block (Platts – English).


Ecopetrol started looking for hydrocarbons in deep waters. Ecopetrol finished the first seismic acquisition operation in deep waters in the Colombian Caribbean (América Economía – Spanish). Seismic works started in Block COL-5, and it was the first deep-water operation developed 100% by Ecopetrol.


Guyana’s opposition plans to renegotiate oil contracts. Guyana’s newest political party, Change Guyana, promised to reopen negotiations on existing oil contracts, pursuing a better deal for the Guyanese (268today – English). Change Guyana said that “all blocks for which investor commitments have not been delivered to date, would be returned to state ownership.”



Liquid Fuels Mid-Downstream


Venezuela changed its oil royalty formulas. Considering the stricter rules on marine fuel emissions, Venezuela has changed the formulas for calculating royalties (Reuters – English). The country removed references to fuel oil and some crude grades.


Asia is looking for heavy crude in Latin America. Major Asian importers will venture into the Latin American market, especially Colombia and Mexico, to prepare a contingency plan to ensure adequate supply of medium and heavy crude feedstocks (Platts – English).


Venezuela’s oil exports fell by a third last year. Venezuelan oil exports dropped 32% in 2019 to 1.001 million barrels per day due to lack of staff and the effect of US sanctions in reducing its export markets (Reuters – English). The fall left Venezuela’s exports at its lowest level in 75 years.


US is considering letting the oil waiver expire. The US may escalate sanctions on Venezuela, allowing the Chevron and four US oil services companies’ waiver to expire and could add oil sanctions on foreign companies still working in Venezuela (Platts – English).



Natural Gas Mid-Downstream & LNG


What is pushing Colombia’s natural gas demand? Colombian natural gas demand will increase by 51% in 13 years due to the oil and power sectors. Oil production activities, including new projects on the Caribbean coast, will propel demand together with refining and thermoelectric power generation (BNAmericas – English).


Colombia will import gas after 2024. The Mines and Energy Ministry confirmed that the Caribbean nation will need to import gas in 2024, as the country will not be able to cover national demand with national production (LAFM – Spanish).


Colombia’s Pacific regasification plant will be up and running by 2024. The Mines and Energy Minister said the regasification plant of the Pacific has been confirmed and will be in operation by 2024 (Valora Analitik – Spanish). The construction will be awarded to a private company and the cost will be paid through gas and power tariffs.


IMO 2020 is transforming sea transportation agreements. A new 4,000-m3 LNG bunker and transport articulated tug barge (ATB) signed an agreement with Shell to bunker ships and have access to 100% of LNG produced at the Elba Island small-scale LNG project (Riveramm – English).



Electric Power & Renewables


Martinique is seriously considering going for geothermal energy. A group of representatives of Territorial Collectivity of Martinique, of the SMEM, Ademe, EDF, and BRGM recently informed the public about potential geothermal development in Petite Anse on the southwestern tip of Martinique (Think Geo Energy – English) (Martinique – French).


Puerto Rico’s Prepa restructuring hearing was delayed yet again. A US District Judge canceled the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s (Prepa) US$8.3bn restructuring deal hearing. This is the fifth postponement and the restructuring will increase rate hikes over 50 years, which will affect Prepa customers (New Energy Events – English).


Bermuda is working on a public-private renewable energy coalition. According to the chief executive officer of Legal & General Re., Bermuda is working to create a public-private sector coalition to boost renewable energy adoption in Bermuda (Royal Gazette – English). The company is investing only in companies tackling climate change.


Barbados and the Bahamas may turn waste into power. Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced an agreement with the Sustainable Barbados Recycling Centre (SBRC) to develop a joint venture on renewable energy (Barbados Today – English). The Bahamas is considering a US$40m waste-to-energy package to face the cleanup challenges after Dorian in Abaco (Tribune 242 – English).


Doubts surround Shell’s power plant in the Bahamas. The Minister of Works questioned whether Shell will be involved in financing, constructing, and owning New Providence’s multifuel power plant or if Bahamas Power & Light will seek to create an opportunity for Bahamian ownership in the sector after its refinancing bond (The Tribune 242 – English).



Old School Social


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


The SPE Latin American and Caribbean Petroleum Engineering Conference is scheduled for March 17-19 in Bogotá.



Lateral Thinking


Small herbivores of the sea bring health to coral reefs. According to a study, maintaining a healthy size distribution of parrotfishes in a sea floor through smart fishing practices could help reefs ( – English). By removing large parrotfish, many more small parrotfish occupy the region.



Quote of the Week


“Los puertorriqueños estaban acostumbrados a transitar de isla en isla y de continente en continente como aves cuya condición natural era tránsito.”


“Puerto Rican people were used to moving from island to island and from continent to continent like birds whose natural condition was movement.”



– Rosario Ferré (1938-2016), Puerto Rican writer, poet, and essayist.




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