The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


January 14, 2019 edition–Curaçao’s refinery is back; ExxonMobil’s drilling; and El Salvador’s LNG plant.




Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. LNG will power up El Salvador; Nicaragua and El Salvador may be out of the DR-CAFTA; and Guatemala tries to expel the UN.


Greater Antilles. Three US companies go after Dominican renewables; Jamaica plans to regain Petrojam shares from Venezuela; and the Dominican Republic confirms the gas found is biogenic.


Lesser Antilles. Curaçao’s oil refinery went back to work; Shell extended its contract for the Rowan jack-up in Trinidad; and BL&P plans to hike power prices.


South America’s Caribbean Coast. ExxonMobil started drilling the Haimara-1 exploration well; Venezuela wants a new offshore oil map; and Colombia’s Cano Limon pipeline suffered two more attacks.


Déjà vu all over again. Last edition’s readers were particularly interested in Cayman’s power prices (English); Trinidad’s agreement with BPTT (English); and CGX Energy’s offshore contract (English).



Political Economy


Some nations may be kicked out of the DR-CAFTA. The US is considering expelling El Salvador, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic from the free trade agreement (Spanish) (English) (Spanish). Nicaragua’s private sector fears a catastrophic effect on exports and jobs (Spanish).


The GDPs of Nicaragua and Bahamas are lower than expected. Nicaragua’s GDP suffered a fall of 4.8% due to a drop in national consumption (Spanish). According to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Bahamas’ GDP per capita is lower than it was 11 years ago, before the beginning of the global recession (English).


Fitch and Moody’s are worried over El Salvador. Fitch forecast a fiscal deficit of 3.2% of GDP for 2019 and recommended that the government cut its debt (Spanish). Moody’s said El Salvador is facing negative fiscal trends that could affect the stabilization of public debt (Spanish).


The US penalized currency scheme in Venezuela. The US Treasury Department sanctioned several businesspeople who made billions of dollars perpetrating a huge fraud in Venezuela’s currency markets (English). The action is part of a sanctions campaign developed by the Trump administration to pressure President Nicolás Maduro to restore democracy.


Guatemala tried to expel UN investigators, but the courts stopped it. Guatemala announced the withdrawal from a UN anti-corruption commission and gave the prosecutors a day to leave the country (English). Guatemala’s constitutional court suspended the government’s decision regarding the UN body that was investigating the president (English).



Oil & Gas Upstream


ExxonMobil got cracking in Guyana’s fields. ExxonMobil started drilling the Haimara-1 exploration well offshore Guyana with the Stena Carron drillship, the first of two planned wells in January (English). The Noble Tom Madden drillship will drill the second well, Tilapia-1, three miles west of the Longtail-1 discovery.


The Dominican Republic confirms the gas it found is biogenic. The Energy and Mines Ministry of the Dominican Republic concluded with studies from Watherford International laboratory that the gas released at Villa Tapia is biogas. The gas is generated from organic matter decomposed by bacteria (English).


Venezuela tells ExxonMobil ships’ tale differently… Venezuela questioned Guyana’s account of the incursion into local waters after a Norwegian ship contracted by ExxonMobil was “intercepted” by Venezuela. Venezuela accused Guyana of allowing ExxonMobil ships to enter into Venezuelan waters, describing the event as a provocation (English).


…and wants to redesign its offshore oil map. Venezuela will remap its Caribbean oil and gas prospects in the coming months. The seismic survey could further increase tensions with Guyana and collide with ExxonMobil’s plans in the region (English).


Shell extended its contract for the Rowan jack-up in Trinidad. Shell expanded its contract for the Rowan Gorilla VI jack-up in Trinidad, continuing its current drilling program until March 2019 (English). Shell T&T is involved in seven offshore and onshore blocks in Trinidad and Tobago.



Oil & Gas Downstream


Jamaica wants Venezuela out of Petrojam. The government of Jamaica is considering how to retake the 49% stake held by Venezuela in Petrojam’s oil refinery (English). The government will enact special legislation for permission for the move.


Colombia’s Cano Limon pipeline had a bad start to the year. The Colombian state-run oil company Ecopetrol said the Cano Limon pipeline suffered two bomb attacks overnight in western Antioquia province, four days after an attack halted pumping (English). The regular attacks have not affected exports or production at the pipeline.


Curaçao’s oil refinery went back to work…after eight months. The Isla refinery resumed work after a halt of eight months due to a dispute between PDVSA and ConocoPhillips (English). The refinery restarted its crude distillation units and thermal cracker, and both units are producing fuel.



Renewables & Electricity


BL&P plans to hike Barbados’ power prices. The Barbados Light & Power Company Limited (BL&P) informed the Fair Trading Commission that it planned to submit the application and explore the possibility of applying for a rate review in the last months of 2019 (English). Technical assistance will be required to support the Commission’s review of the company’s application.


The Dominican Republic will sell shares in Punta Catalina. The Punta Catalina plant’s first unit will start operations by the end of February, and the government plans to sell shares of the plant linked to the Odebrecht scandal (English). The Dominican state will continue being a partner.


Three US companies go after Dominican renewables. A senator from the Azua province said three companies are interested in renewables in the island. One company has acquired land and plans to produce 400MW with solar energy, and a 40MW solar project has been approved in Azua and will start soon (English).


LNG will power up El Salvador. Wärtsilä started working on a 378MW power plant in El Salvador powered by liquefied natural gas that will feed electricity to the national grid (English). A floating LNG import terminal will be built at the same location.



Old School Social


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


The S&P Global Platts 19th Annual Caribbean Energy Conference is scheduled for January 24-25 at the Renaissance Santo Domingo Jaragua Hotel & Casino, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Every year, attendees gather from all over the Caribbean, the Americas, and Europe to discuss the events and trends in Caribbean energy. Meet with private and public energy companies working in the Caribbean, plus investors and project financiers. For more information, including an agenda and speaker lineup:



Lateral Thinking


Green darner dragonflies migrate between the Caribbean and North America. Ecologists have discovered the migration of the common green darner by analyzing forms of hydrogen in the insects’ wings. A first generation of insects emerges in the southern US, Mexico, and the Caribbean from about February to May and then migrates north (English).



Quote of the Week


“Dutty water cool hot iron.”


“Everything has its use.”



– Popular saying from Antigua and Barbuda.



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