The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


July 2, 2018 edition–Canacol’s gas discovery; Belco’s finance; and Venezuela’s oil trouble.




Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. El Salvador demands the US return a child; and Nicaragua’s oil bill skyrocketed.


Greater Antilles. PDVSA’s Russian oil for Cuba was discharged in the Caribbean; the Dominican Republic has not yet signed the Electricity Pact; and the DOE offered suggestions for Puerto Rico’s grid.


Lesser Antilles. The Bahamas plan for a digital currency; and Belco secured the new North Power Station.


South America’s Caribbean Coast. Canacol Energy made a new gas discovery; Kosmos found no hydrocarbons in Anapal-1A; and the World Bank approved US$35m for Guyana’s energy sector preparations.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in El Salvador’s new natural gas plant (Spanish).



Political Economy


Caribbean energy experts discussed energy efficiency at ECLAC. Experts from Barbados, Guyana, Saint Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago analyzed the energy efficiency of their programs (BIEE) at the Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC). The goal is to strengthen the countries’ capacities to monitor their energy efficiency and enhance decision-making on the matter (English).


Bahamas will introduce digital currency. The Bahamas’ Central Bank plans to introduce a pilot digital currency helping family islands that have been left without banking services in their communities (English). The central bank hopes the government will introduce a pilot program using blockchain certification.


El Salvador demanded the US return a child. El Salvador asked the US to return a child taken from his father before being deported, without notifying the embassy (English). US Vice president Mike Pence will visit Brazil, Ecuador, and Guatemala and discuss the immigration crisis (English).


The EU added 11 Venezuelan officials to its sanctions lists. The European Council has listed 11 Venezuelan officials under restrictive measures, including a travel ban and an asset freeze (English). The officials are accused of being responsible for human rights violations and undermining democracy and the rule of law in Venezuela.


Jamaica’s opposition demanded the Energy Minister’s resignation. The People’s National Party called for the resignation of Energy Minister Dr. Andrew Wheatley over the Petrojam scandal. Controversy has surrounded the refinery regarding questionable spending and allegations of procurement guidelines being breached (English).



Oil & Gas Upstream


Canacol Energy made a new gas discovery in Colombia. The Canadian oil company discovered gas in the interior valley of the Magadalena field, the third in the area (Spanish). The finding was in the Breva 1 well, with 91 million cubic feet per day on average.


It will be hard to recover from Venezuela’s oil production slump… The Oil Minister said Venezuela will struggle to recover from the fall in oil production by the end of the year. The goal is to increase oil production by 1 million bpd with the help of Russia, China, and OPEC (English).


…and Venezuela refused to enter the ICJ proceedings. Venezuela refused to follow the United Nations Secretary General’s decision to move the border dispute with Guyana into the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Maduro argued the court lacks jurisdiction (English) over an action proposed by the neighboring country.


The WB okayed US$35m for Guyana’s energy sector preparation. The World Bank approved a US$35m Development Policy Credit to back Guyana’s efforts to improve its financial sector development and fiscal management (English). The goal is to prepare the country to transform its oil wealth into human capital.


Kosmos concluded Suriname’s Anapal-1A exploration. The company completed the drilling of the Anapal-1A exploration well in Block 45 offshore Suriname, finding no hydrocarbons (English). Despite the results, the drillship will continue as planned in the third quarter to test Pontoenoe (English).



Oil & Gas Downstream


Nicaragua’s oil bill skyrocketed. Nicaragua paid US$362m for oil imports from January to April, a 29.6% increase compared to 2017 (Spanish). The reason is the increase in the West Texas Intermediate price, the reference price for Nicaragua; the consequence is greater pressure on Nicaragua’s international reserves.


Venezuela accused the US of destabilizing the global oil market with sanctions. Venezuelan Oil Minister Manuel Quevedo said US sanctions on Venezuela can be considered an attack against the stability of the global oil market (English). The Trump administration increased sanctions to pressure President Nicolás Maduro into political and market reforms.


PDVSA’s Russian oil for Cuba was discharged in the Caribbean. After waiting for a month for delivery at PDVSA’s Bullenbay terminal in Curacao, a tanker with Russian crude discharged in the Caribbean and a second vessel will follow soon (English). The tanker was unable to deliver due to the dispute between PDVSA and ConocoPhillips.



Renewables & Electricity


Colombia prepares for the first renewable power auction. The Energy regulator CREG and the UPME will publish regulations in July (English) for the first auction for renewables other than big hydro. More than 300 projects, including wind, solar, biomass, and small hydro, have registered to participate.


Belco secured the new North Power Station in Bermuda. Belco signed a US$107.5m financing deal (English) for the construction of the North Power Station. The agreement includes a US$91.4m, 12-year export finance loan guaranteed by EKF and a US$16.1m five-year commercial loan.


The Dominican Republic grows impatient with the Electricity Pact. Although the Electricity Pact should have been ready by 2013 and signed by January 2018, the Dominican Republic has still not agreed on it. Political parties are reviewing the proposal and the goal is to reach a broad consensus across political lines (Spanish) (English).


The DOE offered energy resilience solutions for Puerto Rico’s grid. Without considering privatization, the US Department of Energy said PREPA “designed the electricity system well” but the grid was weakened due to a lack of maintenance to the point of failure (English). The DOE also recommended enhancing its resilience by improving, maintaining, and adapting solutions to the grid.


The Dominican Republic generators surpassed demand in June. The Dominican Republic’s generators produced more than the power demanded by electricity distributors. From June 1st to June 19th, demand reached 969.17GWh, while power generators produced 1,052.92GWh (Spanish).



Old School Social


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


The 5th Geothermal Congress for Latin America and the Caribbean will be held July 17-18 at the Hilton Reforma in Mexico City.



Lateral Thinking


Installation standards can save solar panels in hurricane season. Solar panels in Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and Barbuda were torn away in the 2017 hurricane season due to failures in the installation system, such as clamp failures and undersized racks and bolts (English). Solar facilities in the British Virgin Islands survived winds reaching 180 miles per hour.



Quote of the Week


“Y no te asombres de mi astucia sino de tu ignorancia que la hace resaltar.”


“And be not amazed by my cleverness, but of your ignorance that makes it stand out.”




– Reinaldo Arenas (1943-1990), Cuban novelist and poet.



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