The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


March 5, 2018 edition—Guyana’s new oil discovery; Ecopetrol refinery strike; and Dominica’s geothermal tariffs.




Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. Panamá needs more power; Guatemala received Q18m in power investment; and the IMF will go easy on El Salvador.


Greater Antilles. Jamaica’s oil showed promising signs; Havana Energy will build a second biomass plant; and a solar-diesel system was installed in the Dominican Republic.


Lesser Antilles. Petrotrin intends to recover Catshill Field; Aruba looked to the US to discuss Citgo’s refinery; and Dominica is negotiating geothermal energy tariffs.


South America’s Caribbean Coast. Guyana found oil (again); a strike at Ecopetrol’s refinery; and Suriname fights Moody’s downgrade.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in Jamaica’s oil discovery (English); Cuba’s currency (English); and IDB’s annual meeting (English).



Political Economy


Venezuela will hold a presidential election in May. Venezuela postponed the presidential election to the second half of May from April 22 (English) after reaching an agreement with a few opposition parties. The opposition wanted to guarantee the election terms before setting a date, including the liberation of political prisoners (English).


The IMF reached an agreement with Haiti… The International Monetary Fund (IMF) discussed a Staff-Monitored Program (SMP) (English) with Haitian authorities. The goal is to discuss Haiti’s development strategy to improve living conditions and increase economic opportunities.


… and will go easy on El Salvador. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) asked El Salvador for a fiscal adjustment equal to 2% of GDP  by 2020 (Spanish). The IMF asked for a larger adjustment than in previous years.


Suriname fights Moody’s downgrade. Suriname’s Finance Minister criticized the rating agency for not following procedures when issuing ratings. Moody’s downgraded the long-term issuer and senior unsecured rating of the government to B2 from B1, changing to negative from “rating under review” (English).



Oil & Gas Upstream


Colombia needs to balance extraction and environmental regulation. The Dialogue published a report on the Colombian extractive industry and its environmental regulations, indicating the need to avoid a surge of new conflicts due to environmental damage (Spanish). Environmental protection, combined with clearly defined areas for extractive industry development, could help support the peace process.


Jamaica’s oil showed good potential. The Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica and the CGG conducted a geological study that showed signs of possible petroleum potential on and off-shore (English). The study lasted 18 months and discovered two independent live oil seeps in different sections of Jamaica’s oil blocks.


The US is considering Venezuela oil sanctions before April. The US is considering imposing oil sector sanctions on Venezuela before the elections (English). Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is still studying the possible fallout from sanctions.


Petrotrin intends to recover Catshill Field. Petrotrin plans to take possession of the Catshill Field, operated by A&V (English). A&V failed in its bid to obtain an injunction in both the High Court and the Court of Appeal.


Guyana found black gold…yet again. US oil giant ExxonMobil said the last oil discovery in Guyana will bring total future production to 500,000 barrels per day (English). The Pacora well was drilled to a depth of 18,363 feet since January 29 and will be developed with the giant Payara field.



Oil & Gas Downstream


Petrojam will become a regional energy supplier. The government is working to promote Petrojam’s refinery as one of the most modern facilities in the region and upgrade it to supply energy to the wider Caribbean. The government is making financial commitments for the refinery’s upgrade (English).


PDVSA’s refineries will operate at half their capacity. The Venezuelan PDVSA’s refineries will run at 43% of their total capacity in March (English). The low capacity is explained by a lack of spare parts, light crude, and feedstock, according to an internal document from PDVSA.


Aruba is talking to the US about Citgo’s refinery. The Aruba government contacted the US after Citgo Petroleum paused an overhaul of the 235,000-barrel-per-day refinery due to a lack of credit. The Dutch ambassador in Washington and lawyers in New York are also discussing the contract with Citgo (English).


A strike at Ecopetrol’s refinery could affect output. A workers strike could affect maintenance on a unit of Ecopetrol’s refinery in Barrancabermeja. Maintenance on the UOP2 unit was scheduled, but a prolonged delay in the refinery’s ignition could affect output (English).



Renewables & Electricity


The first solar-diesel system was installed in the Dominican Republic. The East Citric Consortium installed a hybrid photovoltaic-diesel system for its own electricity supply (Spanish), saving 40% in fuel consumption. The consortium can now produce clean energy and avoid 540 tons per year of carbon dioxide emissions.


Havana Energy will construct a second biomass plant. The British-Chinese group approved another 62MW biomass plant at the Mario Muñoz sugar mill (English). The project will begin this year with a US$140m investment and will be completed in two years.


Dominica talks tariffs for geothermal energy. Dominica is negotiating with DOMLEC on the price of power and the power tariff for the planned geothermal power plant (English). The European Union is also helping the Dominica government establish a legal framework for geothermal development (English).


JPS bet J$12.8bn on Jamaica’s power… The Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) invested J$12.8bn last year on capital projects (English) to improve power service for the island’s users. Jamaica will complete the first hybrid storage facility in the Caribbean, composed of flywheels and lithium-ion batteries (English), in April 2019.


…and Guatemala received Q18m in power investment. The second substation GIS will be opened in Antigua, Guatemala with a Q18m investment (Spanish). With the new infrastructure, the power company can guarantee Sacatepéquez clients a better quality of service and fewer power interruptions.


Panamá needs more power. The construction of plants to make potable water and the expansion of the public transportation system (Spanish) will increase power demand in Panamá. The new line will demand 12MW by 2021 and 14MW in four years.



Old School Social


Events in the world beyond your screen—go see and be seen!


Recam is scheduled for March 6-8 at the Hilton Hotel in Panama City.


CLER Forum 2018 will be held March 14-16 at the Intercontinental Buenos Aires in Buenos Aires.



Lateral Thinking


Taino genes have been found in today’s Caribbean population. Genetic studies have disproved the belief that the Tainos were extinct (English), and many people from Puerto Rico, Cuba, and other Caribbean islands carry a significant share of indigenous ancestry. An ancient DNA researcher at the Natural History Museum of Denmark isolated the DNA of a Taino woman who lived 1,000 years ago.



Quote of the Week


“The feeling of Sunday is the same everywhere, heavy, melancholy, standing still.”



-Jean Rhys (1890-1979), Dominican novelist and England resident from the age of 16.



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