The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


May 4, 2020 edition–Columbus Energy’s discovery; Colombia’s oil auction; and Costa Rica’s renewables.



Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. El Salvador’s power demand dropped 25%; and Costa Rica was 99% renewable energy-powered in 2019.


Greater Antilles / Northern Islands. Punta Catalina’s unit reentered the grid; PREPA is managing the COVID-19 lockdown; and the Bahamas named a COVID-19 recovery committee.


Lesser Antilles / Southern Islands. Columbus Energy found oil onshore Trinidad; Shell’s LNG sales increased thanks to Trinidad & Tobago; and BHP has completed 23% of Trinidad & Tobago’s Ruby project.


South America’s Caribbean Coast. Colombia will award the third oil auction blocks in December; Halliburton left Venezuela; and Heritage Petroleum wants to sell Guyana’s crude.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in IMF’s visit to Colombia (IMF – English); and New Fortress Energy’s care packages (Jamaica Star – English).



Government & NGO


The Bahamas named a COVID-19 recovery committee. Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis established a 14-member committee to recommend actions to the Cabinet on the long-term recovery of the economy (EW News – English). The measures will include job creation and stimulating small business recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic.


The IMF is happy with Barbados’ progress. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Barbados made “good progress” implementing its economic reform program and all program criteria for March under the EFF were met (IMF – English). The IMF staff supports easing the fiscal stance considering the COVID-19 pandemic.


Maduro named Tareck El Aissami oil minister. President Nicolás Maduro appointed Tareck El Aissami, sanctioned by the US as a drug kingpin, as oil minister and Asdrúbal Chávez as the head of PDVSA to boost Venezuela’s oil industry (Jamaica Gleaner – English).


The IMF okayed emergency assistance for more Caribbean nations. The IMF approved US$65.6m in disbursements for Dominica, Grenada, and St. Lucia (IMF – English), and US$650m in emergency assistance for the Dominican Republic (IMF – English). The IMF also authorized US$504m in emergency assistance to Costa Rica (IMF – English).


The World Bank predicts Caribbean remittances to fall. The World Bank warned that this year the Latin American and Caribbean region will lose 19.3% of its remittances (World Bank – English). Remittances to low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are projected to fall by 19.7% to $445 billion.



Oil & Gas Upstream


Columbus Energy found oil onshore Trinidad. Columbus Energy announced an oil discovery at the Saffron well in the South West Peninsula (Energy Now – English). The well has 2363ft. of Gross sands with six reservoir intervals of interest with a 47% net/gross ratio.


Halliburton left Venezuela. Halliburton announced that it is closing its Venezuelan operations as a response to new US Treasury Department regulations (Nasdaq – English). The new restrictions, which prohibited it from drilling and transporting fuel as well as installing and repairing facilities and infrastructure, cover “the majority” of Halliburton’s operations in the country.


Colombia will award the third oil auction blocks by December. The National Hydrocarbon Agency (ANH) published the calendar for the third period of the permanent process of area assignation (Ppaa) (La República – Spanish). By October 30, the final offers should be made and by November 30, the new contracts are expected to be awarded.


Venezuela’s opposition lawmaker presented a new oil law. Lawmaker Luis Stefanelli, from the opposition Popular Will party, introduced legislation to allow private investment in the oil industry (Economic Times – English). The proposal is similar to the one presented by Juan Guaidó in Houston, which would allow private companies to operate fields.


BHP has completed 23% of Trinidad & Tobago’s Ruby project. The Ruby project, which will include five production wells tied back to existing operated processing facilities, is on schedule and is 23% complete. The Deepwater Invictus rig is expected to arrive in mid-2020 to drill one exploration well in BHP’s Southern licenses (Energy Now – English).


Colombia cut oil production. Colombia’s oil production is expected to fall to between 750,000 and 850,000 barrels per day depending on the Brent price (between US$25 and US$45 per barrel) (Argus Media – English). Colombia’s oil production in March fell by 3% to 857,113 barrels per day, compared to the same month in 2019 (Reuters – Spanish).



Liquid Fuels Mid-Downstream


Heritage Petroleum wants to sell Guyana’s crude. Trinidad & Tobago’s state-owned company bid for the contract to market Guyana’s share of crude produced from the Liza development (Energy Now – English). The contract includes a minimum production rate of five lifts per annum.


Cenit will allow a 50% discount on transportation tariffs for two months. Ecopetrol’s subsidiary announced a 50% cut on its transportation tariffs in May and June before paying the remaining 50% in September (Reuters – English). The Colombian Petroleum Association (ACP) said that the measure would only increase transportation costs (Nasdaq – English).


Venezuela’s oil price had a 20-year fall. The price of Venezuelan oil fell below US$10 per barrel (Economic Times – English), the lowest level in 20 years. According to experts, Venezuela normally requires prices of more than US$30 “to make it attractive to continue drilling and pay royalties.”


Guyana’s deal is still attractive despite the low oil prices. Several oil companies are interested in marketing the government’s share of Guyana’s crude despite the fall in oil prices (Reuters – English). Guyana’s director of energy pointed to the lack of storage as a problem for Guyana crude shipments (Reuters – English).



Natural Gas Mid-Downstream & LNG


Natural gas demand increased 7% in Colombia. Natural gas demand in Colombia increased 7% between April 13 and 19, compared to the previous week, with a 21% increase in residential consumption (Valora Analitik – Spanish). Demand during the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to remain at 700GBtu per day.


Trinidad & Tobago expects to lose billions due to the fall in oil and gas prices. The Caribbean nation lost TT$9bn due to the fall in oil and gas prices. Although forecasts set natural gas prices in the US$2.10 range for 2020, Trinidad & Tobago’s revenue projections are based on US$1.80 per MMBTU for natural gas (Pride News – English).


Shell’s LNG sales increased. Shell’s Integrated Gas and Marketing business’s total production increased 12% thanks to an increase in activities in Trinidad & Tobago (Kallanish Energy – English). LNG liquefaction volumes increased 2% year over year, reaching 8.88Mt thanks to lower maintenance and an increase in LNG capacity.



Electric Power & Renewables


El Salvador’s power demand dropped 25%. During the COVID-19 lockdown, the average daily power demand amounted to 18GWh, a 25% fall compared to numbers before the lockdown (Central America Data – Spanish).


PREPA is managing the COVID-19 lockdown. Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority plans to have 1,000MW in reserve this summer for the lift in the COVID-19 lockdown and reduced the number of customers without power (New Energy Events – English). Lower demand also means lower revenues for a financially damaged institution.


Abaco is waiting on power supplies. The Chamber of Commerce of Abaco said that the reconstruction work after Hurricane Dorian is progressing, but Central Abaco’s electricity has not yet been restored (Tribune 242 – English). Bahamas Power & Light (BPL) assured that significant portions of central Abaco have had electricity services restored.


Costa Rica was 99% renewable energy-powered in 2019. The Central American nation generated 99.1% of its power with renewable energy in 2019. From the total production of 11,312.85GWh, only 95.64GWh were generated by thermal power plants (IEEFA – English).


JPS said it gets no benefit from low oil prices and high power tariffs. The Jamaican Public Service (JPS) stated that its charge to clients is based on usage levels and not on the price of oil, receiving no benefit from cuts in prices. JPS purchases oil from Petrojam (Jamaica Observer – English).


Punta Catalina’s unit reentered the grid. Dominican Republic’s Unit 1 of the Punta Catalina power plant entered the grid with 100MW after 14 days offline to fix a hydrogen leak (Dominican Today – English). Unit 2 continued providing 375MW of electricity to the system.



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 Latam Mobility Summit will be held June 10-11 at Orquideorama, Botanical Garden, in Medellín.


The South America Energy Series is scheduled for June 20 at JW Marriott in Bogotá.


The SPE Latin American and Caribbean Petroleum Engineering Conference was rescheduled to July 28-30 at the Ágora Convention Center in Bogotá.



Lateral Thinking


The Caribbean coral reef started to die in the 1950s. Combining fossil data, historical records, and underwater survey data, researchers have found that the Caribbean coral reef began declining in the 1950s and 1960s, earlier than previously thought (Science Daily – English). Local human impacts such as fishing and land clearing started the coral decline.



Quote of the Week


“Un capricho de un país que no ve levantarse de la pobreza intelectual.”


“A whim of a country that cannot get up from its intellectual poverty.”



– Leticia de Oyuela (1935-2008), historian, researcher, and writer, talking about her writing.



We hope you have a productive week. Please send any news, comments, or coral history to


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