The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


January 21, 2019 edition–Guyana’s solar; Jamaica’s shares; and the Dominican Republic’s refinery.




Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. Central America boosts power projects; and fuel prices are up in Nicaragua.


Greater Antilles. Jamaica’s opposition is against Petrojam shares recovery; Cuba enjoys biogas thanks to innovation; and the Dominican Republic continues fighting for its only refinery.


Lesser Antilles. Touchstone published its Ortoire exploration block evaluation; BMR Energy acquired a 5MW Cayman Islands solar farm; and St. Lucia got funding for a renewable energy project.


South America’s Caribbean Coast. Guyana does not plan to subsidize private oil refineries; stands its ground in the Venezuelan navy incident; and got funding for a solar energy project.


Déjà vu all over again. Last edition’s readers were particularly interested in Curaçao’s refinery resuming operations (English); US targeting Venezuela’s currency scheme (English); and Jamaica’s fight for Petrojam shares (English).



Political Economy


Latin America and the Caribbean exports are up, but slowly. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) said exports from the region hit the highest level in six years thanks to a 9.9 percent increase in 2018, exporting US$1.08 trillion last year (English) (English). The increase fell behind the 12.2% growth rate reached in 2017.


Barbados got another rating upgrade… The regional credit rating firm Caribbean Information and Credit Rating Services Limited (CariCRIS) upgraded the regional scale local currency rating of Barbados from CariD (Default) to CariBB, with a stable outlook (English). The reason was the closure of the exchange offer for domestic debt.


…and Barbados put a freeze on borrowing. The Barbados government promised not to borrow new funds for the remainder of the parliamentary term (English), after the previous administration added B$2bn to the national debt in four years. The measure would mean significantly more savings.


The IDB launched proposals to finance Latin American projects. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) launched the call for proposals for the Regional Public Goods (RPG) Initiative in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) to finance solutions that resolve shared challenges through regional cooperation (English).


Venezuela’s opposition leader declared Maduro illegitimate. The National Assembly, the opposition-controlled legislative body, declared Mr. Maduro illegitimate (English). US Vice President Mike Pence called the Venezuelan opposition leader to show support for him (Reuters – English).



Oil & Gas Upstream


Guyana stands its ground and keeps working after the incident with the Venezuelan navy. Guyana denies Venezuela’s claim that the Norwegian ship hired by ExxonMobil had been operating in its territorial waters, as it is the middle of Guyana’s Exclusive Economic Zone (English). ExxonMobil resumed oil exploration in Guyanese waters (English).


Guyana does not plan to subsidize private oil refineries. The Director of the Department of Energy said the government is not considering providing subsidies for persons operating privately-owned oil refineries in the country (English). Private companies can open a refinery but they will not receive subsidized oil.


Tullow has high hopes for Guyana in 2019. ExxonMobil’s success with recent oil discoveries in Guyana has encouraged Tullow to focus its exploration drilling in the region (English). Tullow will drill the Jethro prospect in the second quarter of 2019, the first of two wells on the Orinduik block.


Touchstone published its Ortoire exploration block evaluation. Touchstone Exploration presented the results of an Ortoire exploration block located onshore in Trinidad and Tobago (English). The evaluation includes an estimate of recoverable volumes and the net present value of future revenue, utilizing 2D and 3D seismic data.



Oil & Gas Downstream


Jamaica’s opposition is against recovering Petrojam shares just yet… The People’s National Party (PNP) does not support the government’s decision to enact special legislation to retake the 49% stake held by Venezuela in Petrojam’s refinery (English). The opposition party considers the decision “particularly premature.”


…while a company in bad standing made a bid for them. The Jamaican government said a company that has not filed annual returns since 2008 made an offer to acquire Petrojam’s shares (English). The company offered PCJ a sum of money to purchase its 51 percent shareholding, and offered PDV Caribe almost twice that amount.



The Dominican Republic continues fighting for its only refinery. The Dominican Republic’s government is waiting for Venezuela to designate its negotiators, after which President Medina would name the Dominican representatives (English). Refidomsa PDV CEO expects “an amicable process.”


Cuba enjoys biogas thanks to innovation. A biodigester has been designed with sufficient pressure to distribute biogas more than five kilometers away without a compressor or blower (English). Cuba is working to create an efficient distribution network to exploit ecological resources and improve the quality of life of rural populations.


Fuel prices are up in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic’s Industry and Commerce Ministry announced higher fuel prices for the week, with an increase in premium gasoline of RD$2.90 (English). Nicaragua is experiencing increases of C$0.66 cents per liter on diesel (Spanish).



Renewables & Electricity


St. Lucia got funding for a renewable energy project… St. Lucia’s government will develop a renewable energy project this year that would save taxpayers money under the 2nd Cycle of the United Arab Emirates (UAE)-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund (English). The project includes the installation of solar photovoltaic systems at two schools.


…and Guyana for solar power. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development are funding a 5.2MW solar PV system to power up communities in Guyana’s hinterland region (English) with a US$8m loan. The plant will reduce fossil fuel consumption and increase power reliability (English).


The Dominican Republic got good and bad power news. The state electric utility CDEEE CEO said the power sector deficit reached US$665m in 2018, when the government had planned to allocate US$425m (English). The Dominican Republic obtained a seat at the International Renewable Energy Agency for the period 2019-2021 (Irena) (Spanish).


BMR Energy acquired a 5MW Cayman Islands solar farm. The Virgin Group company subsidiary bought a 5MW solar plant from Entropy Cayman (English). The solar plant is Cayman’s only utility-scale renewable energy facility, providing 5MW to CUC grid’s peak load. The Cayman’s power provider will transition from fossil fuels to more renewable energy (English).


Central America boosts power projects. Costa Rica’s Las Pailas II geothermal project is in the testing phase to integrate into the national grid, and plans to start generation before the end of the first half of 2019 (English). Acciona has powered up 400 families using solar home systems in Panama, finishing the Luz en Casa Ngäbe-Buglé project (English).



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


Is fish farming the future? The Marine Science Institute at UCSB found that the Caribbean has an enormous potential for off-shore mariculture, with the capacity to produce 40 million metric tons of seafood in less than 1.5% of the countries’ exclusive economic zones (English). The region could more than double its current seafood production.



Quote of the Week


“Have you ever felt like breaking down

Where there ain’t no one who cares around

Were you feeling this way

Back in the day so blue

What did you do?”


– Susan Cagle (1981) American pop rock singer-songwriter and guitarist, born in Aruba and known as Susan Justice.



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