The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


July 30, 2018 edition–Colombia’s new rounds; Puerto Rico’s mini-grids; and PDVSA’s substitute in Curacao.




Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. Guatemala sent more power to Mexico; and the S&P and IMF are concerned with Nicaragua’s political crisis.


Greater Antilles. Siemens designed mini-grids for Puerto Rico; Cuba will soon open its sixth solar park; and Jamaica’s opposition demands an end to the gas tax.


Lesser Antilles. Curacao is looking for PDVSA’s substitute; a decision over St. Croix must be made soon; and Grenada’s economy goes steady.


South America’s Caribbean Coast. Venezuela hopes for higher oil production; Colombia considers a new oil round system; and Guyana’s oil surprised ExxonMobil.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in Guyana’s oil income (English); the decision of Haiti’s prime minister (English); and Venezuela’s oil in Cuba (English).



Political Economy


Cuba’s new president plans economic changes. Miguel Díaz-Canel announced a new constitution and redesigned regulations for the private sector (English). Díaz-Canel’s goal is to reconstruct the economy.


The S&P and IMF are worried about Nicaragua. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) cut the economic growth estimate for Nicaragua to 3.3%, six points less than in April (Spanish). Standard & Poor’s lowered Nicaragua’s rating from B+ to B due to the recent political crisis (Spanish).


The Caribbean receives more investment. Foreign direct investment in the Caribbean increased by 20% in 2017 (English), although it dropped 4% across the Latin America and Caribbean regions. More than half of the FDI in the Caribbean in 2017 went to the Dominican Republic.


The IMF visited Grenada… The International Monetary Fund expects Grenada’s economy to grow by 3.5% in 2018 and 2019 (English), thanks to the global economic conditions and the strength in construction and tourism. Inflation is expected to increase in 2018 due to recent global energy price increases.


…and expects Venezuela’s inflation to reach 1,000,000%. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Venezuela’s inflation could reach 1,000,000% by the end of 2018, if the economy worsens (English). The IMF expects the Venezuelan government to continue suffering fiscal deficits financed by expanding the monetary base.



Oil & Gas Upstream


Ecopetrol invested to increase production. Ecopetrol deployed a rig at the Castilla oil field to boost production and explore for more oil. The company increased its investment from US$2.2bn to US$3.5-US$4bn to finance drilling 620 wells in 2018 (English).


Venezuela aims to increase oil production. The state-owned oil company says it will comply with a quota of 1.9 million barrels per day as part of the progressive increase in extraction (English). Venezuela is facing international disputes over oil shipments either seized at destination points or stalled in Venezuela, unable to be delivered.


Colombia considers a new oil round system. Colombia plans to change its bidding process to increase investment and find new reserves (English). Contracts would be adjusted to international crude fluctuations and the possibility of opening new areas for exploration would be offered to attract spending.


ExxonMobil expects more oil from Guyana. ExxonMobil announced that the 6.6m-acre Stabroek Block has more than 4 billion barrels, above the 3.2bn oil-equivalent barrels previously estimated (English). The company is considering a third phase of development and two additional phases.



Oil & Gas Downstream


Curacao is looking for Venezuela’s substitute. Curacao’s Isla refinery is receiving offers from 15 companies interested in operating the 335,000-barrel-per-day facility, replacing PDVSA (English). Isla has suffered a lack of crude shipments to the plant with PDVSA’s low production.


St. Croix’s revival was discussed. Testifiers participated in a hearing in support of and against the restart of oil refining in St. Croix (English). The Mapp administration, ArcLight Partners, and Limetree Bay officials emphasized the need to ratify the agreement soon to enjoy a critical window of opportunity.


The Trasandino pipeline broke. The Ocensa company stopped the flow of fuel after an oil spill was found in La Cristalina, in the Boyacá department (Spanish). The spill affected vegetation and water at the Mountains of Las Quinchas Natural Regional Park.


Jamaica’s opposition demands an end to the gas tax. Facing record fuel prices, the opposition People’s National Party (PNP) is pushing the government to stop collecting the tax imposed to finance a hedge fund that does not work anymore (English). The hedge fund was introduced by the previous PNP government and, although the oil hedging contracts were not renewed, the J$7 per liter tax remains.



Renewables & Electricity


Siemens designed mini-grids for Puerto Rico. Siemens recommended a new energy infrastructure framework for the island to redesign its power system (English). The goal is to produce a more resilient grid to ensure a steady flow of higher quality power for residents and businesses.


Guatemala sent more power to Mexico. Guatemala increased its power exports to Mexico by 548% compared to the previous year (Spanish). Exports to Central America generated US$44m by May, equivalent to an increase of 4.6% compared to the income obtained in the same period in 2017.


Cuba will soon open its sixth solar park. The Aguada de Pasajeros park in Cuba will provide 2.2MW capacity (Spanish). The technology of the solar park belongs to the Chinese company SunGruw.


OECS and IRENA partnered up for sustainable energy initiatives. The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States Commission (OECS) partnered with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) to work on the Global Geothermal Alliance (GGA) and the SIDS Lighthouse Initiative (LHI) to help small islands develop clean energy (English).


The Caribbean goes after electric cars. The company Megapower has sold 300 electric vehicles in five years and has set up 50 charging stations and solar car-ports on the island of Barbados (English). In Bermuda, Belco plans to convert its truck fleet to electric vehicles by 2025 (English).


South Dakota helped the Caribbean solar market. GenPro Energy Solutions is contributing to the Caribbean solar market by installing solar and other energy efficiency projects (English). Last year a solar installation in Turks and Caicos survived the hurricane, but the building under it suffered damage.



Old School Social


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


The Latin American and the Caribbean Climate Week will be held August 20-23 at the Radisson Victoria Plaza Hotel in Montevideo, Uruguay.



Lateral Thinking


Lizards may be adapting to survive hurricanes. Scientists studied lizards on the remote islands of Turks and Caicos before and after Hurricane Irma and found that the surviving lizards had attributes that allowed them to cling on to branches better, thanks to their shorter hind limbs (English).



Quote of the Week


“Rise and demand; you are a burning flame.

You are sure to conquer there where the final horizon

Becomes a drop of blood, a drop of life,

Where you will carry the universe on your shoulders,

Where the universe will bear your hope.”



– Miguel Ángel Asturias Rosales (1899-1974), Guatemalan writer, diplomat, and Nobel Prize winner.



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