The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


June 1, 2020 edition–AES’ grid; St Vincent’s geothermal in doubt; and Colombia’s LNG import contract.



Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. AES bets on El Salvador’s grid; Guatemala’s new substations are up and running; and the Nicaragua-Costa Rica dispute hit cross-border trade.


Greater Antilles / Northern Islands. JPS will develop a wide EV charging network; Puerto Rico may consider a nuclear future; and BPC has a date for The Bahamas’ oil exploration.


Lesser Antilles / Southern Islands. Trinidad & Tobago will not help out the Venezuelan-Iranian deal; St Vincent may abandon its geothermal project; and Columbus Energy asked to drill Saffron 2.


South America’s Caribbean Coast. The Orinoco Belt’s production dropped to 235,000 barrels per day; the Pacific LNG import contract will be awarded in the first months of 2021; and Promigas finished its pipeline.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in Colombia’s battery auction (PV Magazine – Spanish); New Fortress Energy’s progress in Nicaragua (Prensa Latina – Spanish); and Costa Rica’s distributed power generation rules (PV Magazine – Spanish).



Government & NGO


The Caribbean would rather be safe than sorry. According to Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Mottley, CARICOM countries will first ensure the safety of their citizens and tourists and then prepare to re-open their borders after the COVID-19 pandemic (CBC – English).


The IDB will help out El Salvador’s COVID-19 answer. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) will lend US$250m to finance the Central American nation’s efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic (IADB – English) (El Mundo – Spanish). The authorities promised to reduce the fiscal deficit and focus on public investment.


The Nicaragua-Costa Rica dispute hit cross-border trade. A queue of approximately 1,000 trucks was held at the border between the two Central American nations as Costa Rica criticized Nicaragua’s lax response to the pandemic and tightened its border controls (Reuters – English). Nicaragua ordered the closure of the border in retaliation.


Trinidad & Tobago will celebrate Moody’s latest ratings. Moody’s confirmed Trinidad & Tobago’s long-term issuer and senior unsecured debt ratings at Ba1 (Pride News – English). The government considered it a testimony to the country’s resilience in facing unprecedented shocks.



Oil & Gas Upstream


The Orinoco Belt’s production dropped to 235,000 barrels per day. The production by PDVSA and its partners in the Orinoco Belt fell to 235,000 barrels per day, 18% of the region’s maximum 1.3 million barrels per day capacity, due to storage limitations (Platts – English).


Columbus Energy asked to drill Saffron 2. Columbus Energy presented a drilling application for the Saffron 2 well in the South West Peninsula (Share Cast – English) to the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries of Trinidad & Tobago. Saffron 2 would be a twin to Saffron 1.


BPC has a date for The Bahamas’ oil exploration. The Bahamas Petroleum Company announced that December 15 is the new date for the start of its exploratory oil drilling in The Bahamas (EW News – English). The company has four licenses in The Bahamas, which were extended through December 31.


Stena Drilling was awarded a contract in The Bahamas. The Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) entered a contract with Stena Drilling for a drilling rig in the last quarter of 2020 (Energy Now – English). The contract includes the provision of a state-of-the-art, sixth-generation drilling rig, including integrated supply of a Managed Pressure Drilling (MPD) unit.



Liquid Fuels Mid-Downstream


Trinidad & Tobago will not help out the Venezuelan-Iranian deal. National Security Minister Stuart Young pledged that the government will be doing “nothing to facilitate in any way the passage of any Iranian flag ships carrying petroleum products to Venezuela” (News Days – English). Young said Trinidad & Tobago complies with UN resolutions and sanctions.


Four Iranian fuel tankers have helped out Venezuela. The fourth Iranian tanker reached the Caribbean Sea to provide fuel relief for Venezuela. Iran is providing Venezuela with 1.53 million barrels of gasoline and components to reduce fuel scarcity (Reuters – English) (Platts – English).


MHTL idled the M2 methanol plant in Trinidad. Methanol Holdings Trinidad Limited (MHTL) idled its M2 methanol plant in Trinidad & Tobago as a result of “current market prices and flattened demand for methanol” (Energy Now – English). In Trinidad, five plants have been idled in the last six months.


Jamaican motorists who suffered bad gas were compensated. Approximately 380 motorists who were affected by “bad gas” in 2015 will receive a compensation package valued at J$24.5m (Caribbean National Weekly – English). The settlement, paid to the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC), will be given to people who filed claims that were approved by the CAC.



Natural Gas Mid-Downstream & LNG


Colombia’s natural gas demand went into lockdown. During the lockdown period of the COVID-19 pandemic, the biggest fall in demand came from natural gas cars (53%), followed by refineries (30%) and the industrial sector (25%) (Portafolio – Spanish). Before the quarantine, natural gas demand averaged around 1.014 GBTU per day.


Promigas had to face hard choices for 2020. The company is working to guarantee its operations and supply in Colombia and Perú. Promigas announced the 100% completion of its new pipeline, which will include the new gas reserves from the Sucre and Córdoba fields (Valora Analitik – Spanish).


The Pacific LNG import contract will be awarded in the first months of 2021. The bidding to build and operate Colombia’s second LNG import terminal will conclude early next year (BNAmericas – English). The terms of reference will be published between June and August.


Proman donated TT$1m for frontline healthcare workers. Proman partnered up with the Ministry of Health, local produce farmers, supermarkets, and relief agencies to develop measures to support COVID-19 relief efforts (Energy Now – English). The company provided 600 care packages to support medical staff at the Caura and Couva Hospitals.



Electric Power & Renewables


Guatemala’s newest substations are up and running. Trelec opened the power substations in the Guanagazapa, Escuintla, and Pasaco municipalities in the first quarter of 2020 (Central America Data – Spanish). The substations have an installed capacity of 14MVA.


Puerto Rico may consider a nuclear future. The Nuclear Alternative Project (NAP) published a feasibility study for nuclear energy in Puerto Rico. The study considered that small reactors can integrate with renewables and can sustain natural disasters, including hurricanes and earthquakes (New Energy Events – English).


JPS will develop a wide EV charging network. The Jamaica Public Service (JPS) will establish an island-wide electric vehicle charging station network (New Energy Events – English). Charging stations will be located no farther than 40km away from each other.


St Vincent may abandon its geothermal project. The St Vincent and the Grenadines government is considering the possibility of abandoning the geothermal energy project (Caribbean Business Report – English). The La Soufriere volcano produced the heat but not the permeability needed for power generation.


AES bets on El Salvador’s grid. AES El Salvador will build a new power circuit to minimize power cuts for customers, hospitals, and commerce in the city of San Miguel. The project will require an investment of US$221m (El Mundo – Spanish).


BPL and Shell have some issues to clear up. According to a cabinet minister, both companies have legal issues to clear up before the power plant deal between Shell and Bahamas Power & Light (BPL) can continue (Tribune 242 – English). According to a Shell executive, the deal is “weeks, not months” away.



Old School Social Goes Viral


(Editor’s note: For the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak, this section will refocus on announcements of event delays or cancellations, events that are moved online, and scheduled webinars and public conference calls. Stay safe!)



The Latam Mobility Summit will be held June 10-11 at Orquideorama, Botanical Garden, in Medellín.


The South America Energy Series is scheduled for June 20 at JW Marriott in Bogotá.


The SPE Latin American and Caribbean Petroleum Engineering Conference was rescheduled to July 28-30 at the Ágora Convention Center in Bogotá.



Lateral Thinking


Jamaica will make internet access a right. Jamaica’s Minister of Science, Energy, and Technology said that the COVID-19 pandemic showed how access to the internet needs to be a right for every citizen, and the government is committed “to making this a reality” (Jamaica Observer – English).



Quote of the Week


“The sun and the endless hours of swinging a machete in the fields had taken him from child to old man with no stage in between.”



– Judith Ortiz Cofer (1952-2016), Puerto Rican-American author.



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