The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


May 18, 2020 edition–Apache’s wells; New Fortress’ RFP; and Elecnor’s transmission system.



Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. Elecnor was awarded the contract for a transmission system for a natural gas plant in El Salvador; Moody’s trusts Guatemala’s future; and Fitch had bad news for Costa Rica.


Greater Antilles / Northern Islands. Dominican Republic’s CNE said no to a natural gas-powered project; New Fortress is on the short list for an RFP in PREPA; and BPL’s reliability is in sight.


Lesser Antilles / Southern Islands. Touchstone Exploration has big plans for Trinidad & Tobago; Barbados lawmakers bet on renewables; and a legal firm advised Bermuda on a solar plant.


South America’s Caribbean Coast. Apache keeps working in Suriname; Colombia added new tariffs on US ethanol imports; and Iran sent gasoline to Venezuela.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in Venezuelan oil exports (Reuters – English); the Mexico-Venezuela oil-for-food agreement (Reuters – English); and Jamaica’s LNG switch (Jamaica Gleaner – English).



Government & NGO


El Salvador expects a 7.5% GDP contraction in 2020. The Finance Minister confirmed that the government expects a 7.5% contraction in 2020, ending the year at -5%. The government expects remittances to drop by 17% and income to fall by an estimated US$990m (El Mundo – Spanish).


Moody’s trusts Guatemala’s future. The rating agency maintained the Ba1 rating with a stable perspective in 2021 for Guatemala, despite the COVID-19 crisis (DCA – Spanish). Moody’s expects public debt to increase in 2020 as a result of the pandemic.


The Bahamas responded to the new EU blacklist. The Bahamas defended its fight against money laundering in a response to the European Union’s announcement that 12 countries, including the Bahamas, will be added to its blacklist (International Investment – English).


Fitch had bad news for Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic. Fitch lowered Costa Rica’s rating from B+ to B with a negative outlook due to the risks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic (Nación – Spanish). Fitch affirmed the Dominican Republic’s rating at BB- but revised the outlook to negative from stable (Fitch Ratings – English).



Oil & Gas Upstream


Ecopetrol responds to the 2020 crisis. The Colombian state-owned company will cut spending by 30% to US$2.5bn from US$3bn. Ecopetrol’s production will be cut by 10.2%, from 735,100 barrels per day to between 660,000 and 680,000 barrels (Platts – English).


Touchstone Exploration has huge plans for Trinidad & Tobago. After the discovery announced in December, the company has several producing wells in play (Value the Market – English). Per a framework agreement signed with the National Gas Company of Trinidad & Tobago (NGC), any gas found on the Ortoire block will be sold to NGC and they will build all the pipelines in gathering systems for that production gap.


Apache keeps working in Suriname. Apache Corp. and Total started drilling the third exploration well on block 58, Kwaskwasi-1, offshore Suriname (Offshore Mag – English). The well is 10 km northwest of the Sapakara West-1 discovery. The next well will be Keskesi East-1, 10 km southeast of Sapakara.



Liquid Fuels Mid-Downstream


CB&I Storage Solutions will build four LPG spheres in the Caribbean. CB&I Storage Solutions will construct four liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) spheres for a Caribbean energy infrastructure project (New Energy Events – English). Each sphere will measure 88 ft. in diameter.


Colombia added new tariffs on US ethanol imports. The Caribbean nation’s government placed new tariffs on US ethanol imports (Platts – English). The reason given was that American producers enjoy government subsidies that put local ethanol producers at a disadvantage.


Iran sent gasoline to Venezuela. An Iranian tanker with gasoline was sent to Venezuela to help alleviate a shortage of gasoline in the Caribbean nation (Oil Price – English). Last month, Iran sent a plane with medical equipment and chemicals for the production of gasoline.


The FBI is looking into more firms working in Venezuela. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into European and Mexican oil companies that may have violated US sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry (Oil Price – English). The Mexican oil companies scrutinized are Libre Abordo, Grupo Jomadi Logistics and Cargo, and Schlager Business Group.



Natural Gas Mid-Downstream & LNG


Dominican Republic’s CNE said no to a natural gas-powered project. The national energy commission of the Caribbean nation rejected the definitive concession requested by Energía 2000 for the 360MW natural gas-powered Manzanillo Power Land project (BNAmericas – English). The reason is the lack of proof of technical capacity to develop the project.


Canacol expects gas sales to go up in Colombia soon. Canacol expects demand to continue to increase and stabilize through the summer months as manufacturing and construction activities in most of Colombia returned on April 27 and all sectors on May 26 (Globe News Wire – English).


Gas imports reached 40% in Colombia. The reduction of local production, low international gas prices, and the COVID-19 pandemic have increased natural gas imports, reaching 40% of the national offer (Portafolio – Spanish). The situation could continue if thermoelectric power plants increase their participation in power generation.


Elecnor was awarded a transmission system for a natural gas plant. Elecnor will build a 239 kV transmission system for a 378MW natural gas-powered plant in El Salvador (Energy News – Spanish). The contract has a value of EUR45m.



Electric Power & Renewables


Barbados lawmakers bet on renewables. Barbados Senator Crystal Drakes urged the government to boost job creation in the renewable energy sector (New Energy Events – English). The government expects more than BB$270m to be allocated in capital works expenditures.


A legal firm advised Bermuda on a solar plant. Legal firm Walkers acted as Bermuda counsel to the Saturn Power group as the development of the solar plant at LF Wade International Airport continues (Royal Gazette – English). A 6MW solar farm was created and will generate power equivalent to the electricity needed by 1,100 homes.


New Fortress is on the short list for an RFP in PREPA. New Fortress Energy confirmed it is on the short list to provide temporary emergency generation for the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) (New Energy Events – English). The RFP seeks to lease up to 500MW of temporary generation capacity.


BPL’s reliability is in sight. The Bahamas’ Chamber of Commerce said the COVID-19 pandemic makes the Bahamas Power & Light’s (BPL) stable energy supply essential (Tribune 242 – English). According to BPL, the island-wide blackout was caused by a “once in a blue moon” event (Tribune 242 – English).



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


Boa bones were used as beads in the Lesser Antilles. A multidisciplinary study combining archaeological evidence with historical and biological data sources found eight archaeological Boa finds, including boa beads, on islands where the reptiles have never previously been identified, providing insights into the relationship between Amerindian groups and Boa before Western colonization (Science Daily – English).



Quote of the Week


“We can’t sit down and keep rehashing what people did to us in the past, Ma, or use those injustices as any kind of complete excuse for our present situation. Every people have some kind of grievance.”



– Zee Edgell (1940), Belizean-born American writer.



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