The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


March 15, 2020 edition–Panamá’s energy investment law; Suriname’s oil offshore; and Cuba’s refinery working.


Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. Energía del Pacífico may have plans for El Salvador’s natural gas; Guatemala will bet on its sun; and Panamá discussed the energy investment law.


Greater Antilles / Northern Islands. Puerto Rico may not transition to natural gas; Venezuela keeps sending oil to Cuba’s refinery; and the Dominican Republic will regulate electric cars.


Lesser Antilles / Southern Islands. Antigua and Barbuda are saying goodbye to fossil fuels; Heritage saved US$250m through storage; and Bermuda will build a solar farm.


South America’s Caribbean Coast. Guyana won big with oil production; Fugro will help out Petronas in Suriname’s offshore; and Puerto Solo’s energy hub was okayed.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in the Dominican Republic’s natural gas tender (Dominican Today – English); Colombia’s renewables (Renewables Now – English); and El Salvador’s natural gas plant (Central America Data – Spanish).



Government & NGO


The World Bank implied a slow Caribbean recovery. The World Bank said that there would be a “degree of recovery” in the Caribbean Community countries in 2021 despite the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic (Caribbean Business Report – English). However, the World Bank warned that it would not compensate for the 2020 crisis.


The IMF visited Aruba. Although the Aruban economy was recovering before the pandemic and the COVID-19 pandemic caused a disruption to economic activity, a moderate recovery is projected for 2021 (IMF – English). The IMF recommended strengthening the fiscal policy framework and a substantial and sustained medium-term fiscal consolidation.


The Caribbean’s debt skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Latin American and Caribbean region has increased its debt level from 68.9% to 79.3% of GDP between 2019 and 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, becoming the most indebted region in the world (El Mundo – Spanish).


The USTDA will help out Caribbean energy infrastructure. The US Trade and Development Agency launched the Caribbean Regional Energy Procurement Assistance Program to support the development of energy infrastructure in Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname (U.S. Embassy – English).



Oil & Gas Upstream


Guyana won big with oil production. Guyana received the highest rate since petroleum production began offshore in 2019, averaging US$61 per barrel in February (Stabroek News – English). In February, 997,420 barrels of oil were lifted from Liza Destiny, with a grand total to date of 5,009,797 barrels of oil worth US$246m.


Colombia set a public hearing for Maurel & Prom’s project. A public citizen meeting will be held on March 25 for Maurel & Prom’s COR-15 oil and gas exploration project in northern Colombia (BN Americas – English). The company plans to invest US$41m in the project, which will be completed in 15 months.


Heritage saved US$250m through storage. The chief executive officer of Heritage Petroleum Company, Arlene Chow, added additional revenue of US$250m in 2020 by storing crude when the prices plummeted during the pandemic (Trinidad Express – English). The company slowed the pace of recruitment, reviewed loan repayment options, and optimized project portfolios.


Fugro will help out Petronas in Suriname’s offshore. Fugro is conducting a survey and geochemical campaign in Block 48, offshore Suriname, to assist Petronas with its oil exploration activities (OE Digital – English). Fugro is responsible for geophysical data collection, heat flow measurements, core sampling, and onboard geochemical analyses.


Violence hit Colombia’s oil industry. Although the dismantling of the cocaine trafficking cartels, the surrender of the M19 guerilla movement, the 2016 FARC peace accord, and demobilization of Colombia’s largest guerilla group were all celebrated and expected to bring peace to Colombia, they have done little to stop the violence (Oil Price – English).



Liquid Fuels Mid-Downstream


Venezuela keeps sending oil to Cuba’s refinery… The oil tanker Dandino sailed from Venezuela’s Amuy refinery to Cuba (Diario Las Americas – Spanish). Venezuelan oil exports increased in February, reaching 700,000 daily barrels and increasing the activity at the Santiago de Cuba refinery (Diario de Cuba – Spanish).


…and fuel shortages continue in Venezuela. Although Venezuela’s oil production is recovering, due to US sanctions, the Maduro government has introduced rationing plans for heavy load trucks, and public transportation and electricity generation have been affected (Venezuela Analysis – English).


Antigua and Barbuda are saying goodbye to fossil fuels. Like other islands in the Caribbean, Antigua and Barbuda are heavily dependent on fossil fuels, representing over 10% of the GDP and dominating the energy mix (Power Engineering Int – English). The government has committed to 100% renewable energy in the power and transport sectors by 2030.


Former Petrojam chairman charged with refinery’s fraud. Dr. Perceval Bahado-Singh, former chairman of Petrojam, was charged with fraud related to US$73,620 allegedly obtained during his time leading the board at the island’s petroleum refinery (Nation News – English). The Major Organized Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) will continue the investigation.



Natural Gas Mid-Downstream & LNG


Puerto Rico may not transition to natural gas. According to “We want Sun,” Puerto Rico would not need to invest in new fossil fuel power plants or convert the current plants to natural gas (NimB – English). The labor-environmental alliance recommended installing rooftop solar and storage systems.


Energía del Pacífico may have plans for El Salvador’s natural gas. Apart from expanding transmission infrastructure in El Salvador, the company will monitor natural gas demand for increased access to natural gas in the country and is monitoring the changes in regulations (BN Americas – English).


The Dominican Republic may turn to natural gas to cut fuel subsidies. President Luis Abinader announced that his government would speed up the transformation of the energy matrix from fossil fuels to natural gas to cut the burden of the state subsidy on gasoline, which in his administration exceeds US$2.5bn (Dominican Today – English).


Puerto Solo’s energy hub was okayed. Colombia’s National Infrastructure Agency granted and approved a 30-year port concession to Puerto Solo, a SeaOne subsidiary (Hydrocarbon Engineering – English). The port will receive low emissions fuels, providing natural gas, LNG, and pipeline infrastructure to store and deliver fuels.



Electric Power & Renewables


Guatemala will bet on its sun. Solar El Progreso offered to develop the “Solar Santo Tomás” project, including the installation and operation of a solar park for renewable energy generation (Central America Data – Spanish). The construction will take between 18 and 24 months.


Panamá discussed the energy investment law. The Commerce and Economic Affairs of Panamá’s National Assembly approved the law to establish a special investment program in the public energy distribution service (Central America Data – Spanish). The document mentions the lack of power service quality.


The UNCITRAL decided in favor of Colombia against Naturgy. The international court (UNCITRAL) decided to dismiss Naturgy’s US$1.6bn demand against Colombia for the nation’s intervention in Electricaribe (Expansión – Spanish). Colombia celebrated the news as a proof of legal certainty in the Caribbean nation.


Bermuda will build a solar farm. The Department of Planning has received plans to build a US$18m solar farm in St George’s from IMG Holdings (Royal Gazette – English). The plant will include 20,000 solar cells installed on land and will generate 6MW of electricity.


The Dominican Republic will regulate electric cars. The Dominican Republic is working on regulating power mobility in the country, including rules and tariffs (Diario Libre – Spanish). The National Professional Technical Training Institute began the first hybrid and electric auto technicians training course (Dominican Today – English).


The EU will boost The Bahamas’ renewables. The European Union grant funding provided the government with an almost US$90m financing line to transform the energy sector (Tribune 242 – English). Some US$8.25m of the grant will be allocated to the installation of a 4MW solar plant and energy storage.



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 5th Caribbean Infrastructure Forum will be held March 24-25.


The Hydrogen Congress for Latin America & the Caribbean – H2LAC is rescheduled for April 14-15.


The Island Energy Transformation Training Series will be held April 29.



Lateral Thinking


The IDB and IRENA will make the Caribbean sustainable. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) signed a partnership that will help the energy transition in Latin America and the Caribbean in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement (IADB – English).



Quote of the Week


“Hope is like that terrible Russian substitute for heroin, krokodil. One hit and you’re addicted.”


– Mandy-Suzanne Wong, Bermudian born writer.



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