The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


January 22, 2018 edition—NG Power’s Panamanian plant; BHP Billiton stops Trinidad exploration; and the DR’s new wind park.




Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. Panamá NG Power can continue its gas plant and El Salvador’s fuel prices increased.


Greater Antilles. Cuba will produce more oil; the IFC financed a wind park in the Dominican Republic; and CARICOM condemns Trump’s comments about Haiti.


Lesser Antilles. BHP Billiton put an end to further exploration in Trinidad; Barbados’ economy was downgraded; and A&V Drilling plans to file court action.


South America’s Caribbean Coast. ExxonMobil will extend its oil drilling in Guyana; Colombian guerrillas attacked a pipeline; and tension increased between Venezuela and the Dutch Caribbean islands.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in the Dominican Republic’s call for tenders (English).



Political Economy


Despite parliament, Maduro defends his oil cryptocurrency. President Nicolás Maduro refuses to abandon the oil-backed cryptocurrency rejected by the Venezuelan parliament (English). In the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, Treaty of Commerce of the Peoples, President Nicolás Maduro suggested cryptocurrency would advance “monetary sovereignty.”


Guyana will relocate its citizens from Puerto Ordaz. The Guyana government is concerned for the Guyanese living in Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela, and will help them return if the situation worsens (English). Guyana is prepared to receive those residents and Venezuelans looking to escape violence in those communities.


Barbados’ economy was downgraded…again. The Caribbean Information and Credit Rating Services Limited (CariCRIS) lowered the island’s foreign currency and local currency ratings to CariBBB- from CariBBB+ (English). The decision was taken due to the reduction in net international reserves.


CARICOM condemns Trump’s comments about Haiti. The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) said it is “deeply disturbed” about President Donald Trump’s reference to Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations as “shithole countries” (English). Haiti issued a statement condemning the comments as racist, insulting, reprehensible, and disrespectful.


Cuba supports regional integration. Cuba’s Foreign Minister pointed to the need to strengthen the unity of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) (English). The ALBA-TCP comprises eleven member countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Grenada, Nicaragua, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Venezuela.



Oil & Gas Upstream


BHP Billiton ends further exploration in Trinidad. Australia’s BHP Billiton announced the cancellation of the second phase of exploration in two deepwater blocks in Trinidad and Tobago (English). The first phase of exploration for the Trinidad and Tobago Deep Atlantic Areas 7 and 23 ended in the fourth quarter of last year.


Cuba will produce more oil. Gross oil production in Cuba is forecast to be between 4,300 and 4,800 barrels per day in 2018. The forecast is in response to a 3-year extension of the Puerto Escondido/Yumuri production sharing contract to 2021, approved by Cuba’s Executive Committee (English).


A&V Drilling plans to file court action. A&V Drilling intends to file court action against the Trinidad & Tobago government (English). The announcement came after Energy Minister Franklin Khan told the House of Representatives that reports about the fake oil scandal had been sent to the Public Prosecutions Office (English).


ExxonMobil plans to extend its oil drilling in Guyana. The oil giant asked Guyana’s environmental authorities for permission to drill 40 new wells (English). The company has already planned 17 wells for the first phase, and the new project should start in 2022.



Oil & Gas Downstream


Colombian guerrillas attacked a pipeline. The National Liberation Army (ELN) used a bomb to attack the southern Transandino pipeline (English). The bomb caused crude oil to spill into a nearby river. The ELN has restarted its insurgency against the state and oil infrastructure after the end of a ceasefire.


Venezuela’s crude cargos were seized and tension increased. Tension between Venezuela and the Dutch Caribbean islands increased after a crude cargo ship was seized in Curacao’s Bullen Bay terminal (English). Proteo, a Panama-flagged cargo, was detained by private parties after it loaded cargo and tried to leave the terminal.


El Salvador will pay more for fuel. The Economy Ministry announced that El Salvador will experience a SLV$0.10 increase per gallon, the highest in the last three months (Spanish). Prices will remain unchanged through January 29.


Street side oil slick was not caused by Petrotrin. Oil was observed along San Fernando Street in San Fernando, and Petrotrin is conducting an investigation (English). Petrotrin has no installations in or around that area, and the source of the oil is not yet known.



Renewables & Electricity


The UAE will back Guyana’s energy projects. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced a US$50m fund for renewable energy projects in the Caribbean (English). Three of Guyana’s energy projects, scheduled to start in the fourth quarter of 2018 and in early 2019, have been selected for this funding.


Debate surrounds the possible exclusion of renewables from the DR’s new power contracts. EDESUR Dominicana announced that bidding for 4-year power contracts will be exclusively directed to natural gas (Spanish). The National Committee to Fight Climate Change considered the exclusion the main reason not to sign the Electrical Pact (Spanish).


The IFC financed a DR wind park with US$80m. The International Financial Corporation (IFC) completed a US$80m finance package to build and operate a new 50MW wind park (Spanish). The park will be one of the Dominican Republic’s biggest renewable projects.


Panamá NG Power can continue its gas plant. The Supreme Court reactivated Panamá NG Power’s construction and operation project to build a 670MW natural gas plant (Spanish). Panamá NG Power has 150 days to prove it can develop the project.



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


The Caribbean needs to prepare for earthquakes. A magnitude 7.6 earthquake struck off the coast of Honduras, prompting a tsunami warning for Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Cuba, and Jamaica (English). The quake’s magnitude was stronger than the tremblor that destroyed Haiti in 2010.



Quote of the Week


“Que de noms endormis au seuil de ma mémoire.

A l’heure où l’on entends frissonner les roseaux

Je les vois se dresser du fond de la nuit noire

Comme ces feux follets qui dansent sur les eaux.”


“What names sleep at the threshold of my memory.

At the time when we hear shudder reeds

I see them stand up from the dark night

Like these will-o’-the-wisps dancing on the water.”


-Georges Sylvain (1866-1925), Haitian poet, diplomat, and lawyer.



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