The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


January 15, 2018 edition—More oil in Guyana; a loan for Colombian hydro; and the DR plans new tenders.




Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. Belize will not allow offshore oil; Nicaragua suffers high fuel prices; and El Salvador paid more for fuel in 2017.


Greater Antilles. Half of Puerto Rico is still without power; the Dominican Republic will call for tenders in the first half of 2018; and the Electric Pact may be signed in January.


Lesser Antilles. EU will bet on Barbados energy self-sufficiency; and the Bahamas government approved Emera Caribbean’s consolidation of GBPL.


South America’s Caribbean Coast. ExxonMobil made a new discovery in Guyana; IDB Invest signed a loan for Colombia’s new hydropower plant; and Venezuela’s parliament said no to oil-backed cryptocurrency.



Political Economy


Maduro cut ties with three Caribbean islands for three days… Venezuela temporarily cut air and maritime traffic with Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao for 72 hours (English). The Netherlands will evaluate the impact of any economic fallout after the Venezuelan blockade (English).


… and Brazil and Venezuela’s friendship is in jeopardy. Brazil expelled Venezuela’s top diplomat in Brasilia after Venezuela declared Brazil’s ambassador persona non grata (English). Brazil increased its criticism of the Maduro government for its human rights violations and political practices, and Venezuela has condemned Rousseff’s impeachment.


No evidence of “sonic attacks” in Cuba. Republican Senator Jeff Flake said the US found no evidence that American diplomats in Havana were attacked (English). Washington said 24 US government officials and spouses fell ill in their homes and hotels in Havana in 2016.


Guyana and Haiti “won” the corruption rating. Analyzing data from the World Bank, Trading Economics listed Guyana and Haiti as the most corrupt countries in the Caribbean (English). Maintaining their position for years, the Bahamas was ranked the least corrupt country within the Caribbean community, followed by Barbados.


Venezuela’s parliament rejected an oil-backed cryptocurrency. The Venezuelan parliament opposed the proposed oil-backed cryptocurrency, programmed for 2018, because it would be “illegal” to mortgage oil reserves (English). The opposition-led parliament strongly opposed the proposal, but it does not mean President Nicolás Maduro will not implement this currency plan.



Oil & Gas Upstream


ExxonMobil’s Ranger well hit black gold again… Ranger made a sixth discovery on the Stabroek block and its potential resources add to the 3.2 billion boe from the operator’s previous five discoveries (English). The Guyana government welcomed the announcement (English).


… but Guyana’s private sector is not that happy. The Private Sector Commission (PSC) is concerned about the recently released contract between the government and ExxonMobil (English). The PSC believes more could have been done to support local businesses, and the ring-fencing provisions were not addressed.


Brazil is ready to give Guyana a hand. Brazil will help Guyana to develop its oil and gas sector, according to Guyana’s Ambassador to Brazil (English). ExxonMobil’s recently announced discoveries open new possibilities for collaboration. Brazil is South America’s largest energy consumer.


Belize passed on offshore oil. Belize placed an indefinite moratorium on offshore oil in its marine territory (English). This historic action was welcomed by Oceana and the World Wildlife Fund, considering Belize’s economic dependence on its natural resources. Belize issued offshore oil concession licenses in 2010.


The DR will call for exploration tenders in the first half of 2018. The Energy and Mines Minister announced that oil and natural gas exploration and exploitation tenders will be launched in the next six months (English). The first two tenders will include exploration in Azua and Bahia Ocoa.



Oil & Gas Downstream


The Three Wise Men brought Nicaragua high fuel prices. Gasoline prices will increase by 0.35 córdobas per liter and diesel prices by 0.42 córdobas per liter in Managua. In the rest of Nicaragua, fuel transportation costs will be added to the average price of 30.90 córdobas per liter (Spanish).


The Dominican Republic Customs Agency is worried about fuel. The Customs Agency is targeting the illegal sale of waste fuel from ships that dock at local ports, a business that evades taxes (English). The Customs Agency announced that the fuel sector must pay an RD$2.0 per gallon advance on dispatched gasoline and diesel (English).


Venezuela caught a break thanks to its oil. The Energy and Oil Ministry announced the price of Venezuela’s oil barrel increased slightly from US$57.85 to US$59.06 (Spanish). Fuel prices are offered in yuans after abandoning the dollar as the reference currency, using an exchange rate of 6.49 yuans per dollar.


El Salvador’s fuel bill increased in 2017. As of November, El Salvador paid SVC$1.1bn for fuel imports, SVC$107m more than the SVC$1bn spent in 2016 (Spanish). The 2017 imports were more expensive due to an increase in fuel prices, not due to the volume imported.



Renewables & Electricity


IDB Invest will back Colombia on getting a hydropower plant… The Inter-American Development Bank’s private sector institution signed a US$1bn A/B loan package to Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM) to build a 2,400 MW hydropower plant in Antioquia (English). The new plant will generate 13,900 GWh of renewable electricity annually.


and the EU will bet on Barbados energy self-sufficiency. Barbados received EUR1.12m from the European Union to develop energy self-sufficiency from renewable resources (English). Barbados will receive a EUR3m contribution in total to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under its United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change commitments.


Half of Puerto Rico is still in the dark. Sunnova Energy Corporation, the largest residential solar service provider on the island, urged Congress to help with Puerto Rico’s power restoration efforts. Three months after Hurricanes Irma and Maria, 45% of Puerto Rico still lacks electricity (English).


Emera Caribbean bought the rest of GBPL. The Bahamas government approved Emera Caribbean Holdings Limited’s 100% ownership of the Grand Bahama Power & Light Company Limited (GBPL) (English). The Emera subsidiary is the parent company of BLPC, the majority shareholder of DOMLEC, and an investor in LUCELEC.


The Electric Pact will be signed in January, per the DR Energy Minister. The Energy and Mines Minister said the Electric Pact will be signed in January, even though certain participants will not subscribe to it (Spanish). The Minister said the pact will not increase power tariffs (Spanish).



Old School Social


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


The Trinidad and Tobago Energy Conference 2018 is scheduled for January 22-24 at the Hyatt Regency in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago.


The Platts 18th Annual Caribbean Energy Conference is scheduled for January 25-26 at the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar, Nassau, The Bahamas. This conference provides an excellent venue to learn what is happening in energy around the Caribbean, and to discuss key opportunities and challenges with industry leaders and colleagues. For more information, including a full agenda and speaker details, see Platts 18th Annual Caribbean Energy Conference.



Lateral Thinking


A Guyana high school is now solar-powered. A 6.2kW solar system from the Hinterland Electrification Company Inc. (HECI) now powers the St. Cuthbert’s Mission Secondary School (English). The new system cost GYD$8.7m, and 24 solar panels were installed during the Christmas holidays.



Quote of the Week


“El arte de vencer se aprende en las derrotas.”


“The art of victory is learnt in defeats.”


-Simón Bolivar (1783-1830), Venezuelan military and political leader, called El Libertador.



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