The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


March 26, 2018 edition–Colombia’s new solar plant; drilling in T&T; and the Curacaoan refinery’s new contract.




Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. Guatemala is powered by cane and the IMF finished up in Guatemala.


Greater Antilles. Barrick will continue with the DR Rural Power Unit; the PCJ hopes Jamaica will enjoy the benefits of oil; and the Dominican Republic will build a 50MW solar farm.


Lesser Antilles. Grenada discovered oil and gas; St. Lucia and Nevis will bet on geothermal power; and Columbus Energy Resources renegotiated the BOLT transaction in Trinidad.


South America’s Caribbean Coast. The US expanded Venezuela’s sanctions; Ecopetrol found heavy crude in Meta well; and a PdVSA oil cargo was released at last in Curaçao.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in Guyanese investment in the oil and gas sector (English); Dominica’s geothermal project (English); and the Curacaoan refinery’s natural gas supply (English).



Political Economy


The IMF finished up in Guatemala and cannot get near Trinidad. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) pointed to the increase in living standards (English) as Guatemala’s main challenge. Trinidad & Tobago’s Prime Minister will not approach the IMF (English), blaming foreign companies for not meeting their financial obligations to the country.


The IDB Invest and Banco Davivienda will create homes in Colombia. The private sector institution of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) signed a US$200m loan to Banco Davivienda in Colombia (English) to finance mortgage loans for two government programs. Banco Davivienda is the leader in Priority Housing (VIP) and Social Housing (VIS).


Jamaica declared a second parish in a state of emergency. Murders and crime prompted authorities to declare a state of emergency in St. Catherine, the second parish since the start of 2018. Police reported that 94 people were detained (English); 24 were later released and 20 processed and kept overnight.


The first female president of Trinidad and Tobago took office. Paula-Mae Weekes was sworn in as the first female president and the sixth Head of State of Trinidad and Tobago (English). She offered two choices for the country: to be overwhelmed by its problems or to choose an alternative and fight.


The Bahamas wants out of the EU tax blacklist. The Bahamas Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest responded to the European Council’s decision. The Bahamas reiterated its commitment to the Code of Conduct Group and will meet the December 2018 deadline (English) to address the areas of concern identified by the EU.



Oil & Gas Upstream


The PCJ wants Jamaica’s oil. The Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) said Jamaica will benefit from the production sharing agreement with Tullow Oil Limited (English) to explore oil and gas. The chosen model established that Jamaica retains a percentage and the company that invests gets a certain amount.


Grenada struck black gold…and gas. Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell announced that “significant gas and oil” was found in Grenada’s territorial waters (English). The discovery was made by Russian outfit Global Petroleum Group (GPG), which is in charge of an exploratory drilling campaign.


The US expanded Venezuela’s sanctions. The Trump administration announced that sanctions against Venezuela were broadened, four government officials were blacklisted (English), and the digital currency created by Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro was banned. The goal is to send a message to Maduro’s government, holding him responsible for Venezuela’s economic devastation.


Columbus Energy Resources renegotiated the BOLT transaction in Trinidad. Columbus Energy Resources successfully renegotiated the Beach Oilfield Limited (BOLT) transaction, entering into a new lease agreement with Singh Estates (English). The transaction gave them 100% operational control over 8,700 acres in the South West Peninsula of Trinidad.


Ecopetrol found heavy crude in Meta well. Ecopetrol confirmed the discovery of heavy crude oil in the Lorito-1 well (Spanish) in the Guamal municipality. The discovery was made at a 2,500m depth in a well that is 55% owned by Ecopetrol (English), with the remaining 45% stake held by Talisman Colombia Oil & Gas Ltd.



Oil & Gas Downstream


The Bahamas environmental group has a Grand Bahama oil refinery agreement in its sights. Fred Smith, QC, attorney for the Bahamas environmental group Save The Bays (STB), plans to file a judicial review of the controversial oil refinery (English) and storage facility project for East Grand Bahama. Several environmental groups criticized the handling of the development and the controversial environmental impact assessment.


NGC and CNC agreed on gas sales. The National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (NGC) and Caribbean Nitrogen Company Limited (CNC) reached an agreement on the commercial terms of a gas supply agreement (English). Both companies are in the process of formalizing the required legal agreement.


A PdVSA oil cargo was released at last in Curaçao. The Venezuelan state-owned PdVSA reached a settlement to release a cargo of crude and bunkers held in Curaçao since December 30 (English). The 600,000-700,000-barrel capacity Proteo tanker, carrying extra-heavy Boscan crude, can now leave the Curaçao port of Bullen Bay.



Renewables & Electricity


Guatemala is powered by cane. In the last 20 years, the sugar mills in Guatemala have increased power generation from 160MW to 700MW (Spanish), contributing 27% of the energy matrix. In the last two decades, the mills have invested Q$820m to generate power.


The Dominican Republic will cut the ribbon on a 50MW solar farm. Through its subsidiary Emerald Solar Energy, Potentia Renewables and Cisneros started the construction of Solar Canoa park in Vicente Noble, Barahona (Spanish). The park to be built in one year will provide 25MW of power, and an expansion of a further 25MW is planned at a later stage (English).


Barrick will continue the DR Rural Power Unit. The Mining Corporation Barrick Pueblo Viejo reiterated its commitment to continue the agreements signed with the Rural and Suburban Power Unit (UERS). The goal is to update and power up five communities (Spanish) of the Cotuí municipality in the Sánchez Ramírez province.


Geothermal energy is St. Lucia and Nevis’ future. A geothermal development in St. Lucia plans a slim-well drilling program for three wells with a XCD$6.6m budget (English). GeothermEx confirmed a resource with 411oF (210oC) steam temperature on Nevis, showing promising results with the drilling of a production well which could start late this summer (English).



Lateral Thinking


Caribbean reefs protect fish from climate change. The UBC’s Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries found that larger reef areas may protect the Caribbean’s fish (English) from the impact of climate change. Using sea water temperature and fishery records from the 1970s, scientists found the change in fish composition was slower in countries with larger coral reefs.



Quote of the Week



“I never had an occasion to question color, therefore, I only saw myself as what I was… a human being.”



-Sidney Poitier (1927), Bahamian-American actor, film director, and diplomat.



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