The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean

July 24, 2017 edition – Statoil and Exxon partnered up in Suriname; Puerto Rico discussed Offshore GasPort; and Moody’s threatened the Bahamas.





Political Economy


The economies of Cuba, St Kitts, and Nicaragua are picking up. An increase in job gains, incomes and consumer spending is helping St. Kitts and Nevis’ economic prosperity (English). Cuba experienced a 1.1% increase of the gross domestic product in the last six months (Spanish). Nicaragua’s commercial deficit was reduced by 19.6% (Spanish).


Moody’s threatened the Bahamas with a downgrade. The international credit agency said it may drop the Bahamas’ Baa3 credit rating based on the negative report produced by the Hubert Minnis administration (English). The government forecast an increase in the debt ratio in the next years and a weak fiscal position.


Venezuela fell into a general strike. The Venezuelan opposition called for a 24-hour strike protesting Maduro’s plans for a new constituent assembly (English) (Spanish). Maduro invited the current Caribbean Community (CARICOM) chairman to determine a plan of action to resume the national dialogue (English).


Puerto Rico extended its financial emergency period. Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló extended until December 31 the commonwealth’s emergency period under the Financial Emergency & Fiscal Responsibility Act (English). The law allows a moratorium on its debt service obligations and aims to increase collections of the island’s room occupancy tax.



Oil & Gas Upstream


Statoil and Exxon will operate two blocks in Suriname. ExxonMobil Exploration & Production Suriname BV, Statoil, and Hess signed a production sharing contract work with Suriname’s state-owned company for Block 59 and Statoil signed a separate agreement for Block 60 (English) (Dutch). Block 59 is 305km offshore Paramaribo in 2,000-3,600m of water, sharing a maritime border with Guyana while Block 60 is near the border with French Guiana.


Guyana opened a business center to boost the oil and gas sector. The Centre for Local Business Development is part of a major framework being prepared to support oil and gas production in Guyana (English). The Centre will train local businesses and will host ExxonMobil’s posts of available contracts and tenders.


Petrotrin discussed its future with the Energy Minister. Petrotrin’s executive team met the Energy Minister to discuss Petrotrin’s performance, current challenges and expectations (English). Petrotrin will concentrate on improving production, oil recovery, exploration to locate new deposits, and access to new regional and international markets (English).


An oil spill hit Kingston Harbour. A major oil spill arrived at the Kingston Harbour near Petrojam and extended to the Gordon Cay area. The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) advised marine interests to be cautious in the area (English).



Oil & Gas Downstream


Panama opens its doors and laws to natural gas. Panama is discussing a proposed law to develop natural gas imports and exports in the country (Spanish). The project defines natural gas storage, transportation, and distribution as a public service (Spanish).


Puerto Rico discussed the Aguirre Offshore GasPort. On July 20, the Puerto Rico Energy Commission held a public hearing to hear testimony on the construction of the Aguirre Offshore GasPort (AOGP) (English). The goal is to determine if the AOGP will help to meet the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s needs.


Cuba suffered from Venezuela’s drop in oil exports. Venezuela’s crude and fuel exports to Cuba fell by 13% in the first semester increasing fuel and power shortages in the Caribbean island (English). In 2016, the government reduced by 28% fuel allocations to state-owned companies and cut power consumption.


Guatemala shared new fuel prices. According to the Ministry of Energy and Mines, Guatemala’s fuel prices will remain stable with differences between Suchitepéquez, Chimaltenango, El Progreso, Totonicapán, Quetzaltenango, and Chiquimula, Quiché, Alta Verapaz, and Baja Verapaz (Spanish). Changes in fuel prices are expected with further cuts in OPEC members’ production.



Renewables & Electricity


REDSER and OPEC promoted clean energy. The Dominican Net for Sustainable Development of Renewable Energies (REDSER) coordinates and shares information for 46 micro hydroelectic plants (Spanish). The OPEC International Development Fund (OFID) allied with the World Petroleum Council (WPC) to give access to clean energies to poor sectors (Spanish).


Guatemala relies on renewables for power. In May, 56% of Guatemala’s power came from renewable energy sources, with an 8% reduction in price compared to 2016 reaching 59.52 US$/kWh (Spanish). Among renewables, 72% came from hydroelectric plants.


Panamá will announce a short-term power auction. The Energy Ministry asked Etesa to prepare a tender to cover electricity distribution companies’ contractual obligations. The deadline for offers will be October 31 and contracts will last for four years (Spanish).


Total Dominicana stations will shine brighter. The French multinational will install solar panels in 42 service stations to add 2.3MW peak capacity from 2017 to 2018 (English). Total Dominicana is the first fuel company in America joining the plan to install solar panels at 5,000 locations from 2017 to 2021.


Japan and the Caribbean back solar energy. The Japan-Caribbean Climate Change Partnership (J-CCCP) was announced in Bartica to promote the installation of a 20kW grid-connected solar system in a secondary school (English). J-CCCP supports the government’s commitment to use 100% renewable energy in public institutions by 2025.


Costa Rica will disconnect Panamá during an electric overload. The Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) okayed a special security system to protect the National Electric System (SEN) from new blackouts (Spanish). If another overload from Panamá happens, the country will be disconnected to protect Costa Rica and Nicaragua.



Lateral Thinking


Scientists created a Caribbean drought atlas. Cornell scientists designed a high-resolution drought atlas with information from 1950 until today (English). With it, scientists confirmed the 2013-2016 drought was the worst in 66 years due to climate change being more severe and extensive than any other event in the historical data.



Quote of the Week


“La palabra puede exponer la acción, pero no puede suplantarla. Miles de frases son incapaces de decir tanto como una acción.”


“A word can express an action, but cannot take its place. Thousands of sentences are incapable to say as much as an action.”



-Juan Bosch (1909-2001), Dominican politician, storyteller, and historian




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