The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


March 16, 2020 edition–Jamalco’s operations; Cascadura’s second results; and Bermuda’s renewables.




Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. New Fortress Energy experts are already at work in Nicaragua; the Rocja Pontilá hydroelectric project is off; and the IDB infrastructure plan could make El Salvador’s power self-sufficient.


Greater Antilles / Northern Islands. Jamaica’s natural gas-powered bus pilot is a success; the Dominican Republic grew by 4.7% in January; and New Fortress started operations at Jamalco.


Lesser Antilles / Southern Islands. Cascadura brought good news to Trinidad & Tobago and Touchstone; Bermuda may consider solar panels and wind turbines; and Barbados will ask the IMF for help with the COVID-19 effect.


South America’s Caribbean Coast. Colombia’s fracking ruling could be done by July; low oil prices hit PDVSA’s sales; and Guyana’s oil may mean trouble for the World Bank.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in Wärtsilä’s gas-powered plant in El Salvador (Power Technology – English); El Salvador’s biogas plant (El Mundo – Spanish); and Jamaica’s energy sector investments (Pride News – English).



Government & NGO


Fitch warned the Dominican Republic over fiscal uncertainty. The international rating agency said that the upcoming elections in the Caribbean nation could present near-term fiscal risks, as the fiscal reform may depend on the legitimacy of May’s presidential and congressional elections (Dominican Today – English).


The Dominican Republic grew at 4.7% in January. The Dominican Republic’s central bank said that the economy grew at 4.7% in January. The central bank expects monetary conditions to boost the country’s economy to reach its potential rhythm during 2020 (Diario Libre – Spanish).


Guatemala closed the door to European and Chinese travelers. Guatemala banned the entry of European, Iranian, Chinese, South Korean, and North Korean citizens to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (Reuters – English). Costa Rica has confirmed 22 cases, the highest total in a Central American country.


Barbados will ask the IMF for help with the COVID-19 effect. The Caribbean nation is looking to negotiate with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on some form of relief as it may not meet its target under the US$290m Extended Fund Facility (EFF) if the island suffers COVID-19 cases (Jamaica Observer – English).



Oil & Gas Upstream


Colombia’s fracking ruling could be done by July. Council Magistrate Ramiro Pazos said that a final decision from Colombia’s highest administrative court on whether to allow production from non-conventional deposits could come in the next four months (Reuters – English).


Guyana’s oil may get the World Bank into trouble. The World Bank was accused of paying for rewriting Guyana’s oil laws by a legal firm that also works regularly with ExxonMobil (The Guardian – English). The World Bank funded the work of Hunton Andrews Kurth to revise the Petroleum Act with US$1.96m.


Cascadura brought good news to Trinidad & Tobago and Touchstone. Touchstone Exploration said that the second stage of testing at the Cascadura 1ST1 well confirmed the material size of the discovery and delivered a combined average of 10,600 boe/d (Energy Now – English).



Liquid Fuels Mid-Downstream


Nicaraguan gas stations and the police cut relations. US sanctions have forced gas stations to stop selling fuel to the police (La Prensa – Spanish). The institution is expected to be supplied by DNP, which is also sanctioned by the US.


A little Mexican firm will trade Venezuela’s oil. Schlager Business Group, another small Mexican company, will lift millions of barrels of Venezuela’s oil in March despite US sanctions (Reuters – English). The company is run by one of Libre Abordo’s owners, a Mexican company with ties to Venezuela.


Low oil prices hit PDVSA’s sales… Venezuela’s oil company is offering discounts of up to $23 per barrel on its best crude with the drop in global oil prices. Low selling prices could make it difficult for PDVSA to cover its production costs (Reuters – English).


…but Venezuela’s petro crypto is supposedly still holding steady. Despite the drop in world oil prices, Venezuela’s cryptocurrency remained unaffected. Nonetheless, there is a discrepancy with the reality of the market and the price of the petro on the secondary market, which has always been much lower and much more volatile (Decrypt – English).


Trinidad & Tobago will suffer from low oil prices. The Caribbean nation’s government expects a TT$3.5bn fall in oil and gas revenue in 2020 due to the fall in global oil prices (Viconsortium – English). The Finance Minister said that Trinidad & Tobago has faced a similar situation before, and the country will overcome the situation.



Natural Gas Mid-Downstream & LNG


Jamaica’s natural gas-powered bus pilot is a success. The Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) and New Fortress Energy are encouraged by the raw data from the pilot testing of its natural gas-powered fleet (Jamaica Gleaner – English). New Fortress invested US$400 million in the natural gas pilot.


New Fortress Energy experts are already at work in Nicaragua. Thirteen experts from the natural gas export company are in Nicaragua, planning to start the first phase of the natural gas plant (Prensa Latina – Spanish). The plant is expected to be working in the second half of 2021.


New Fortress started operations at Jamalco. New Fortress Energy started commercial operations of the combined heat and power plant at the Jamalco refinery (Jamaica Observer – English). The plant will supply 100MW to Jamaica Public Service Company’s (JPS) national grid and more than 280,000 pounds of steam per hour.


Colombia’s gas supply is under discussion. The National Audit Office warned that while natural gas demand is increasing, Colombia will lose its self-sufficiency in the short term due to the delay in certain projects (El Tiempo – Spanish). The office also pointed to poor exploration results.



Electric Power & Renewables


Bermuda may consider solar panels and wind turbines. The island’s government is in talks to install solar panels in several of its buildings to save on power (Royal Gazette – English). Bernhard Schulte Offshore said Bermuda could install 15 wind turbines offshore to meet its power needs (Royal Gazette – English).


Guatemala’s Rocja Pontilá hydroelectric project is off. Although the Energy and Mines ministry (MEM) approved the 40MW hydroelectric in the Icbolay river, the Environment and Natural Resources Ministry canceled the environmental permit that had been approved and, because of that reason, the MEM repealed the project (Central America Data – Spanish).


The IDB infrastructure plan could make El Salvador’s power self-sufficient. The infrastructure plan developed by the International Development Bank includes investments for US$2.8bn between 2019 and 2030 in the power sector (El Economista – Spanish). The plan could reduce El Salvador’s dependency on fuels.


Auctions boosted renewables in the region. The Latin American Energy Organization (OLADE) and the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) published a report that found that 80% of current renewable energy capacity in Latin America and the Caribbean was driven by public tenders and auctions (New Energy Events – English).


IRENA asked renewable energy project developers to register. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) urged developers of renewable energy projects to register in the Climate Investment Platform in 14 regional groups (Dominican Today – English) (Diario Libre – Spanish). The goal is to mobilize low carbon emission investments.



Old School Social


Events in the world beyond your screen—go see and be seen (but stay six feet apart)!



REFFLatAm 2020 is scheduled for March 16 at 1 Hotel South Beach in Miami, Florida.


The SPE Latin American and Caribbean Petroleum Engineering Conference will be held March 17-19 in Bogotá.



Lateral Thinking


New Fortress Energy plans to move into the hydrogen business. New Fortress Energy plans to supply hydrogen in the next decade to reach net-zero emissions (New Energy Events – English). The company plans a pilot in the next year to test the use of hydrogen as a power plant fuel.



Quote of the Week


“¡Querer que yo no la vea! ¡Querer que no me le acerque, es pedir al pájaro que no cante, al sol que no alumbre, a la mariposa que no busque la luz, a los ojos que no vean, al corazón que no ame, al alma que no sienta, a mí, que no sea humano!”


“You want me not to see her! Wanting me not to get close to her is like asking a bird not to sing, the sun not to shine, a butterfly not to search the light, the eyes not to see, the heart not to love, the soul not to feel, and me not to be human!”



– Lucila Gamero de Medina (1873-1964), Honduran romantic novelist.




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