The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


January 29, 2018 edition—Colombia’s falling fuel exports; new renewable plants; and fewer tax havens.




Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. Costa Rica said no to clean energy investments; Panamá will have two new renewable energy plants; and Guatemala will receive OPIC investment for renewables.


Greater Antilles. The Puerto Rico Energy Commission published rules for regulating microgrid development; and the Dominican Republic will have a new power generation plant.


Lesser Antilles. Trinidad and Tobago’s upstream is expected to improve; Barbados and Grenada are no longer tax havens; and a Sol Petroleum terminal leaked four barrels.


South America’s Caribbean Coast. Colombia’s crude exports are down; Venezuela is working to improve production; and Guyana oil income will coincide with the election.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in Barbados’ downgrade (English); Panama NG Power’s new opportunity (Spanish); and BHP Billiton ending T&T exploration (English).



Political Economy


China has the Greater Caribbean in sight. The results of the preliminary analysis for the free trade agreement negotiation between China and Panamá (Spanish) will be published in three months. Antigua and Barbuda invited China to invest in the development (English) of a hotel project on the coast.


Barbados and Grenada are no longer tax havens. The European Union announced Barbados and Grenada were removed from the new list of global tax havens (English). The reason for the delisting was based on an expert assessment of the commitment to address deficiencies identified by the European Union.


Oil prices raised Nicaragua’s trade deficit. Nicaragua’s trade deficit increased by 0.8% (Spanish) compared to the same period in 2016. Imports were up by 10.5%, according to the central bank.


Moody’s worries over Costa Rica’s tax agreement. The international rating agency warned foreign investors of the political difficulties in Costa Rica to reach a tax agreement (Spanish). Moody’s believes it is highly likely that Costa Rica’s election will go to a second round.



Oil & Gas Upstream


Venezuela’s oil sector faces difficult times. Venezuela’s new oil minister has a difficult goal: to increase output capacity by 1 million b/d in 2018 (English). In December 2017, the country’s production was 1.62 million barrels per day (English), a 29% decline in a year.


Trinidad and Tobago’s upstream is expected to pick up. Upstream activity is expected to increase in 2018. However, the Energy Chamber’s survey of energy service companies reported that more than 60% of companies said both the volume and value was under normal levels (English) in the fourth quarter of 2017.


A Guyana oil and gas summit aims to propel local businesses. Guyanese businesses will meet and learn from leaders in the oil and gas industry at the Guyana International Petroleum Business Summit (GIPEX). The conference will provide insights into opportunities available in the oil sector (English) for independent producers and providers.


Guyana oil income will arrive with the election. Oil and gas development should benefit citizens of countries in which the work occurs. However, oil money in an election year could cause misbehavior in the transparency of income and expense (English).



Oil & Gas Downstream


St. George’s Sol Petroleum terminal leaked four barrels. Four barrels of heavy fuel oil leaked (English) from a pipeline at the Sol Petroleum terminal in St. George. The pipeline, close to the shoreline and the waters around the St. George area, was shut down.


A Trinidadian ammonia plant was closed for lack of gas. The Caribbean Nitrogen Company announced the closure of its ammonia plant on the Point Lisas Industrial State in Trinidad. The closing was a response to the National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago’s cut of the gas supply (English) to the plant.


Colombia’s crude exports dropped. Export volumes declined in January due to the unrest in the country facing the end of a temporary ceasefire (English) between the government and the National Liberation Army.


A local energy workforce is wanted in the Caribbean. Numerous Caribbean countries have goals to diversify their energy sources and hire skilled technicians and professionals (English). The Inter-American Development Bank supported BRIDGE Program focused on the development of human capital in Barbados, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago.



Renewables & Electricity


Puerto Rico is changing its power system. The Puerto Rico Energy Commission published rules to regulate microgrid development (English) to end outages from Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Puerto Rico announced the privatization of the public power company (English) Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA).


Panamá and the Dominican Republic will enjoy renewable plants. Energía Verde will build a wind park in Chiriquí and Progreso Solar will build a solar farm with an investment of US$30m (Spanish). The Punta Cana-Macao Energy Consortium (CEPM) will invest US$140m in a 90MW power generation plant (English) in the Dominican Republic’s Bávaro area.


British Virgin Island residents can go into the solar energy business. Residents can now sell energy (Spanish) generated from their private photovoltaic system to the BVI Electricity Corporation. The government plans to implement new legislation on renewable energy this year.


Costa Rica missed out on clean energy investments… In the last five years, Costa Rica lost more than US$1bn in foreign direct investment (Spanish) in renewable power plants. The investments from countries such as Canada, China, the US, and European and Arab nations could have generated hundreds of jobs.


… and Guatemala said yes to OPIC’s investment. The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) pledged a US$100m investment (Spanish) for development, infrastructure, and clean energy in Guatemala. OPIC has invested US$400m in the last 20 years through loans, manufacturing, and financing.



Old School Social


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


The Caribbean Conference on Functional Materials (CARIBMAT 2018) is scheduled for February 7-9 at the Hotel Caribe in Cartagena de Indias.



Lateral Thinking


Guyana fights poverty with honey. Guyana and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) will add honey to the list of agricultural products, such as sugar and rice, which can put an end to poverty. Guyana produces 11,300 gallons of honey (English), but must import over 4,000 gallons from the US and Jamaica to cover demand.



Quote of the Week


“Death is a woman, and for that reason she’s courageous and just, and never makes distinctions between mortals; she’ll crush the ignorant, the arrogant, and the wise alike under her icy foot.”


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


We hope you have a productive week. Please send any news, comments, or problems solved with honey to


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