The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


March 22, 2020 edition–Puerto Rico’s LNG project; Suriname’s exploration; and El Salvador’s sun.


Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. Panamá’s bunker sales remain solid; IDB Invest will boost natural gas supply in El Salvador; and the IMF is concerned with Belize’s COVID-19 recovery.


Greater Antilles / Northern Islands. Cuba has five new solar parks; the Puerto Rico LNG project is up for discussion; and the Dominican Republic’s upstream regulations were explained.


Lesser Antilles / Southern Islands. Borr Drilling lost US$46.7m in the fourth quarter; and Trinidad & Tobago’s GTL plant is up and running.


South America’s Caribbean Coast. Total and Apache have high hopes for Suriname’s oil exploration; Guyana celebrated Liza’s full capacity; and ExxonMobil is after Colombia’s fracking project.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in Puerto Rico’s renewables (NimB – English); the Dominican Republic’s fuel subsidy (Dominican Today – English); and the USTDA’s new program (US Embassy – English).



Government & NGO


Colombia and Denmark will boost renewables. The Mines and Energy Ministry signed an MoU with the Embassy of Denmark in Colombia to promote technical cooperation as well as the implementation of energy-efficient, renewable energy and electric mobility programs and activities (PV magazine – Spanish).


The IMF is concerned with Belize’s COVID-19 recovery. The Caribbean nation has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic hitting its fiscal and external positions from previously weak levels (IMF – English). The GDP is expected to recover to 2019 levels by 2025.


Qatar will help out the Dominican Republic’s energy sector. The State of Qatar plans to cooperate with the Dominican Republic in energy matters (Explica – English). Qatar has the third-largest natural gas reserves in the world.


Venezuela fights inflation with larger-denomination banknotes. Venezuela rolled out larger denomination banknotes, with bills worth 200,000 and 500,000 bolivars (worth just 10 and 27 US cents). The goal is to fight inflation that was running at 2,665% in January, contributing to shortages of cash (Reuters – English).


Suriname will ask for a debt repayment extension. Suriname will ask its creditors for an extension of the payment deferral on its 2023 and 2026 notes (Reuters – English). The country had to secure a staff level agreement with the IMF by March 24.



Oil & Gas Upstream


Total and Apache have high hopes for Suriname’s oil exploration. Total and Apache will continue their oil exploration program offshore Suriname after ending drilling in a key test well after facing “substantial pressure increases” (Platts – English). Total and Apache are expected to make a final investment decision late this year to target production in Suriname.


Borr Drilling lost US$46.7m in the fourth quarter. The Bermuda-based company reported a US$46.7m loss the last quarter of 2020 (Royal Gazette – English). The company posted revenue of US$60.2m in the period; for the year, the company reported that its loss widened to US$305.2m.


The Dominican Republic’s upstream regulations were explained. Since 2019, the Caribbean nation offered upstream acreage through production-sharing agreements (PSAs), which state that licensees are not required to pay any royalties and bonuses. Instead, surface fees are paid during the exploration and production period (Offshore Technology – English).


Guyana celebrated Liza’s full capacity. President Irfaan Ali announced that the first phase of the Liza offshore crude project had reached full production capacity of around 130,000 barrels per day (Reuters – English). Ali expects an additional 10 exploration and appraisal wells to be drilled off Guyana this year.


ExxonMobil is after Colombia’s fracking project. According to the National Hydrocarbons Agency, ExxonMobil sent a proposal to develop hydraulic fracturing in Valle Medio del Magdalena basin, Colombia (Reuters – English). If the project is approved, ExxonMobil will be the second company to begin a fracking pilot project.



Liquid Fuels Mid-Downstream


Fuel prices may push Nicaragua’s power tariffs up. The head of the Energy Chamber said that 18 weeks of fuel price increases will not increase power tariffs, as there is more renewable energy generation and less thermal energy (La Prensa – Spanish).


Panamá’s bunker sales remain solid. In February, 418,415 metric tons of marine fuel were sold, 1.5% more than in January and 5.5% more than in February 2020 (Bunker Spot – English). A new tanker move that enables outer anchorage bunkers in the Panama Canal may mean less idle time for larger ships taking bunkers (Hellenic Shipping News – English).


Venezuela’s new gasoline stations have fuel. The newly opened gas stations in Venezuela have gasoline to sell (Rig Zone – English). President Nicolás Maduro handed over dozens of run-down gasoline stations across the country to local entrepreneurs, operating as independent businesses.


Haiti fights to stop a fuel supply claim. The Haitian government requested a US court to stay a US$94m ad hoc arbitration brought by a supplier of petroleum products (Global Arbitration Review – English). The argument is that the disputes provisions in their contracts are invalid under Haitian law.



Natural Gas Mid-Downstream & LNG


Trinidad & Tobago’s GTL plant is up and running. NiQuan Energy’s Gas to Liquids plant at Pointe-à-Pierre opened (PR Newswire – English). The plant has a capacity of 2,400 barrels per day and produces high-performance, low-emissions energy products, obtaining GTL Paraffinic Diesel and GT Naphtha from natural gas.


The Puerto Rico LNG project is up for discussion. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will decide whether it has jurisdiction over the natural gas import terminal in service at the Port of San Juan (Platts – English). The plant was developed to supply a PREPA gas-burning plant after the utility announced its decarbonization goals (Utility Dive – English).


The Dominican Republic wants two natural-gas powered plants. The Dominican government will launch tenders to purchase two natural gas-powered combined cycle plants through long-term contracts to increase energy generation (Dominican Today – English). The plants should supply 700MW and 800MW.


IDB Invest will boost natural gas supply in El Salvador. The member group of the IDB Group structured a US$128.3m financial package to finance a floating storage and regasification unit to be installed in El Salvador by Invenergy and BW LNG (BN Americas – English).


NFE is expanding in Latin America. New Fortress Energy expects to decide on the fourth LNG terminal in Brazil in 90-120 days. The company also expects to bring terminals online in Mexico and Nicaragua in the next few months (BN Americas – English).



Electric Power & Renewables


Guyana is all up for hybrid solar projects. Guyana’s Energy Agency launched biddings to increase power generation capacity in several remote populations (PV Magazine – Spanish). The first bidding will include a total of 355kWh storage capacity and 10 solar installations.


Enel and KIO Networks signed a PPA in Panamá. Enel Green Power Panamá and KIO Networks Panamá signed an agreement for the annual supply of 5,000MWh of renewable electricity (PV Magazine – Spanish). Enel Green Power Panamá is building the solar plant Esperanza, with a capacity of 26.24MW.


Enertiva and Alas Doradas will take advantage of El Salvador’s sun. Enertiva will develop a solar project of 9,400 solar panels and a 5MWp capacity for Alas Doradas (PV Magazine – Spanish). Enertiva will make the initial investment and the client will pay a tariff for the use of power.


The Bahamas’ Chamber of Commerce backed the BPL energy tariff regulation plan. A Chamber of Commerce director celebrated the efforts to bring regulation of Bahamas Power & Light’s (BPL) energy tariffs under independent oversight (Tribune 242 – English). The regulator said it is seeking to find the right balance between the interests of the consumers and BPL.


The Dominican Republic will have to receive Punta Catalina’s unit 2. The Dominican Corporation of Power State Companies’ (CDEEE) issuing of the tentative reception certificate of unit 2 of the Punta Catalina plant will force the Caribbean nation to accept the unit (Diario Libre – Spanish).


Cuba has five new solar parks. Cuba added five solar parks with a generation capacity of 60.3MW in 2020 in the Mariel Special Development Zone (On Cuba News – English). This program produces 340,000MWh annually, which is equivalent to 88,400 tons of fuel saved.



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


Puerto Rico’s sun may make homes more resilient. According to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), the investment of US$9.6bn in distributed solar panels and batteries could transform Puerto Rico’s electrical system into a resilient grid with a clean, reliable source of energy (Caribbean Business – English).



Quote of the Week


“How could you get an education if you can’t read. The fundamental aspects of getting an education, of being educated, of getting knowledge, is to read.”



– John Alexander Watler (1938-2015), Belizean novelist and poet.



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