The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


June 25, 2018 edition–Exxon’s discovery; Jamaica’s renewables; and El Salvador’s natural gas plant.




Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. Central America focuses on natural gas plants and Costa Rica will develop tax reforms.


Greater Antilles. Jamaica focused on renewables and reducing emissions; Prepa was partially privatized; and the sun powers up Cienfuegos.


Lesser Antilles. Curacao’s refinery is working at minimum capacity; the Bahamas will start oil exploration; and Bermuda’s solar project will be operational in 2019.


South America’s Caribbean Coast. ExxonMobil hit black gold in Guyana…again; Venezuela started shutting down production; and Colombia requested permission to join CPTPP.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in Taiwan Power Company’s visit in Haiti (French).



Political Economy


The IMF visited Haiti, Jamaica, and St. Lucia. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Haiti’s growth outlook remained positive, reaching 2% GDP growth (English), while St. Lucia’s GDP growth reached 3% in 2017 (English). The IMF concluded Jamaica has enjoyed high employment levels, hitting an 11-year low in its unemployment rate (English).


Colombia asked to be part of the CPTPP. Colombia formally requested permission to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) (English) (Spanish). The CPTPP replaced the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which was thrown into question after US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal.


CARICOM countries will improve resilience with some help. Fourteen of the Caribbean community countries will design projects to mobilize resources to improve the resilience and adaptation of agriculture, food systems, and rural communities (English). The European Union reaffirmed its financial support for regional sustainable development (English) for the next five years.


Costa Rica and The Bahamas face spending cuts and higher taxes. President Carlos Alvarado plans to approve spending cuts and tax reforms this year to reduce Costa Rica’s fiscal deficit (English). In The Bahamas, hundreds protested against a proposed value-added tax hike from 7.5% to 12% (English).


The Dominican Republic and Haiti shared more trade. The government of the Dominican Republic said trade with Haiti surpassed last year’s figure of US$800m (English). The Haiti embassy commercial attaché expressed the need to deal with problems along the border, controlling the flow of merchandise and increasing revenue.



Oil & Gas Upstream


ExxonMobil made yet another discovery in Guyana. ExxonMobil discovered 265 feet of high-quality, oil-bearing sandstone during the drilling of the Longtail-1 well offshore Guyana, the company’s eighth discovery (English). The well was drilled to 18,057 feet in 6,365 feet of water with Stena Carron drillship.


Venezuela started shutting down production… Argus Media reported Venezuela began shutting down oil production, bringing the country closer to the 1mn barrels per day psychological level (English) (English). Venezuela fell to an average 1.392 million bpd in May, 42,000 bpd less than in April.


…and Colombia increased oil production in May. Colombia produced an average of 865,987 bpd in May, a 1.6% increase (English) compared to the same month in the previous year. The level represents a 0.1% increase from April and the third month with rising production.


The Bahamas will start oil exploration. Taking advantage of the current “window of opportunity,” an oil explorer aims to drill The Bahamas’ first well after five years of regulatory delays (English). The Bahamas Petroleum Company has signed a three-month exclusivity contract with a “major international company.”


Latin American elections may affect oil production. The Dialogue had a conversation with energy specialists discussing the potential implications of this year’s elections and political changes in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela (English). Oil production and energy reforms in these Latin American countries could be affected or slowed.



Oil & Gas Downstream


Curacao’s Isla refinery hit the brakes. The Isla refinery operated by PDVSA in Curacao is working at minimum capacity, waiting for new crude shipments (English). Only a few units at the Curacao refinery have been working during ConocoPhillips’ moves to seize PDVSA’s inventories, cargoes, and facilities.


China is not getting Venezuela’s oil. PetroChina expects Venezuela’s cargoes in July to be half the usual volumes, while PDVSA pledged China this gap would be compensated in July’s cargo (English). A senior Chinese oil industry official pointed to the recent high water content in Venezuela’s crude oil.


Latin America and the Caribbean propelled US jet fuel exports. The US exported 186,000 bpd of jet fuel in 2017, with 62% going to Latin American and Caribbean countries (English). International tourist arrivals in 2017 increased by 7% in South America and by 4% each in the Caribbean and Central America.



Renewables & Electricity


Central America focuses on natural gas plants. The National Authority of Public Services said the time for Panamá NG Power to present the finances to construct its plant expired (Spanish). El Salvador’s Energía del Pacífico obtained financing and the construction of the 378MW plant will start in the third quarter (Spanish).


Jamaica bets on renewables… Jamaica’s Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture, and Fisheries said new LNG, wind, and solar projects will provide a total of 410MW of alternative energy (English) to the country’s national grid by March. Following the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Projects, the government has saved US$230m reducing environmental emissions (English).


…and so do Bermuda and Saint Lucia. Bermuda’s solar project is expected to begin construction in the late summer and will start operations in the first quarter of 2019 (English). Saint Lucia’s hotel industry urged the government to allow hotels and similar commercial businesses to use large amounts of renewables, ending the 25kWh limitation (English).


Prepa was partially privatized, while resilience is recommended. Puerto Rico’s governor, Ricardo Rosselló, signed a bill to partially privatize the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), intending to sell power plants (English). The US Office of Electricity recommended Puerto Rico incorporate resilience principles in its recovery plans (English).


Cienfuegos is powered up by the sun. Cienfuegos has connected four solar parks to the National Power System, contributing 11.2MW (Spanish). Cienfuegos also has 409 windmills and 381 solar water heaters.



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


A doomed octopus nursery was found. A geology expedition found a population of purple octopuses brooding their young next to a warm flow of low-oxygen water (English) off the coast of Costa Rica. Scientists believe the octopuses’ presence at the hazardous site could indicate a larger population exists nearby.



Quote of the Week


“I know the dark delight of being strange, the penalty of difference in the crowd, the loneliness of wisdom among fools.”



– Claude McKay (1889-1948), Jamaican writer and poet.



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