The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


May 7, 2018 edition–Bahamas’ oil exploration; Guyana’s empty well; and Costa Rica’s solar.




Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. Costa Rica will auction US$2m worth of solar energy systems; Guatemala’s coffee producers endorse South Korea’s free trade agreement; and El Salvador will hand out LP gas subsidy cards.


Greater Antilles. The Dominican Republic announced an oil and gas contract model; Jamaica is upgrading its refinery on schedule; and the Dominican Republic broke up with Taiwan and turned to China.


Lesser Antilles. Bahamian oil exploration is close; Harbor Island may be powered up by summer; and Bermuda is considering how to calculate tariffs.


South America’s Caribbean Coast. ExxonMobil found no oil in Guyana’s latest well; and the IMF analyzed Colombia’s and Venezuela’s economies.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in the Bahamas’ Shell bid process (English); LNG in the Americas (English); and T&T enjoying Grenada’s gas (English).



Political Economy


Bahamas’ GDP is growing slower than needed. The Bahamas is just “25% of the way” (English) towards generating the needed economic growth. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated that an average annual growth rate of 5.5% over a five-year period is needed to slash unemployment by half.


The Cepal published a report on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Cepal published the second annual report on regional progress and challenges relating to the 2030 Agenda (English) for Sustainable Development in Latin America and the Caribbean. The report focuses on the SDGs to be considered in 2018 (English).


The IMF visited Colombia and Venezuela. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Colombia’s outlook is favorable (English) as the country continues its efforts to advance structural reforms to achieve productivity growth. The IMF issued a declaration of censure against Venezuela for failing to implement (English) remedial measures.


The Dominican Republic broke up with Taiwan and turned to China. The Dominican Republic and China established diplomatic relations after the DR dumped Taiwan, leaving Taiwan with just 19 diplomatic allies (English). The DR and China will exchange ambassadors as soon as possible while Taiwan’s foreign minister condemned China’s use of dollar diplomacy to convert its allies.


Guatemala’s coffee producers endorsed South Korea’s free trade agreement. Coffee sector representatives emphasized the need for Guatemala to be part of the free trade agreement between Central America and South Korea (Spanish). Guatemala did not sign the agreement in May 2017.



Oil & Gas Upstream


Bahamian oil exploration is close… The Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) submitted an application for environmental approval to explore the Bahamian waters for oil (English). The submission is a step towards discovering commercial quantities of extractable oil in the Bahamas, based on the company’s seismic data.


…and environmentalists oppose the plan. The president of reEarth asked the government to deny the Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) the approvals needed for oil drilling (English). The environmentalist recommended the government pursue renewables and noted that the country will not enjoy a better deal on oil prices.


ExxonMobil found no oil in its latest well. The oil giant announced the latest exploration well offshore Guyana had no oil in commercial quantities (English). ExxonMobil is still optimistic about the prospects for finding more oil (English), however.


The Dominican Republic announced an oil and gas contract model. The Energy and Mines Ministry presented the hydrocarbons exploration and production contract models (Spanish), based on farmouts. This step is essential to auction oil and gas fields in the country.


The T&T Energy Chamber will guide Ghana. The Energy Chamber of T&T met the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) to discuss future plans and business opportunities in Ghana’s oil and gas industry. Trinidad and Tobago, with a more experienced sector, could offer guidance to Ghana (English).



Oil & Gas Downstream


The NGC needs gas station installers. The National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (NGC) is looking for contractors to construct and install gas stations (English). The NGC will focus on securing the current business and growing the group locally and internationally (English).


El Salvador will hand out LP gas subsidy cards. The Economy Ministry announced 15,000 cards will be handed out to the LP gas beneficiaries. The Ministry located 4,000 anomalies, including users who did not know they were beneficiaries and LP gas suppliers who were cashing the subsidies (Spanish).


Jamaica’s upgrade of Petrojam’s refinery is on schedule. The Science, Energy, and Technology Minister announced the installation of a Vacuum Distillation Unit is underway, the first phase in the Petrojam refinery upgrade (English). Vacuum distillation will help to produce petroleum products out of heavier oils.


Jamaica’s rum will be powered up by LNG. J. Wray & Nephew Limited (JWN) forecast savings of US$1m a year (English) by powering its rum distillery at New Yarmouth Estate on liquefied natural gas. A New Fortress Energy company will supply the LNG by January 2019.



Renewables & Electricity


The Bahamas urged to postpone joining the WTO until its new power plant opens. The government was encouraged to delay the Bahamas’s WTO accession until 2021 to coincide with the proposed timetable for Shell’s LNG power plant in New Providence (English). The goal is to properly position the economy for the WTO accession.


Harbor Island may be powered up by summer. A cabinet minister pledged to solve Harbor Island’s electricity shortfall before summer (English). The Bahamas Power & Light (BPL) would bring short-term rental generation to boost capacity while it considers a long-term solution.


Punta Catalina is more than 89% complete. The power plant at the center of the Dominican Republic’s biggest corruption scandal (English) is more than 89% complete. The 720MW plant will generate power from “clean burning pulverized coal.”


Bermuda is reconsidering how to calculate feed-in tariffs. The Regulatory Authority of Bermuda announced a consultation on the method to estimate tariff rates paid to generators (English). The feed-in tariff is paid by Belco to compensate people who are connected to the power network and who generate electricity.


Costa Rica will auction US$2m worth of solar energy systems. Costa Rica is looking to auction the supply and installation of solar panels for 110 systems for traffic lights of the central system (Spanish). The deadline for offers is May 30, 2018.


A court ordered ICE to protect a hydro project. The court ordered the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad to protect the Hydroelectric Project (Spanish) Capulín San Pablo in Turrabares during construction. The goal is to avoid damage to the environment and the loss of lives.



Lateral Thinking


Caribbean islands will cooperate to protect iguanas. The Lesser Antillean iguana population has declined by over 70% and is now endangered. Representatives from Anguilla, St. Barts, and St. Eustatius came together with the support of the BEST Initiative to create a strategy to conserve their native iguanas (English).



Quote of the Week


“So much of life, it seems to me, is determined by pure randomness.”


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



We hope you have a productive week. Please send any news, comments, or strategies to conserve iguanas to


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