The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


November 5, 2018 edition–Grenada’s oil exploration; Bermuda’s feed-in tariffs; and Colombian fracking.




Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. Guatemala’s grid is expanding, but requires investment; the IMF is surprised about El Salvador’s economy; and S&P confirmed Guatemala’s BB- rating.


Greater Antilles. The UN condemned the US embargo of Cuba; Jamaica paid for its streetlights; and only half of Haiti’s EDH clients pay for power.


Lesser Antilles. Grenada’s oil exploration will be led by a Chinese and a Russian company; Curacao is seeking help for the Isla oil refinery; and Bermuda will set feed-in tariffs in 2019.


South America’s Caribbean Coast. Ecopetrol’s production is increasing; PDVSA paid Conoco US$345m in cash; and fracking will arrive in Colombia in 2019.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in the maritime fuel rule (English); Panamá NG Power’s new timeline (Spanish); and Cuba and the US’ confrontation (English).



Political Economy


The IMF was busy with the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, and St. Kitts-Nevis. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said economic growth in the Dominican Republic and El Salvador has sped up since the beginning of 2018 thanks to remittances (Spanish). St. Kitts and Nevis blocked the publication of the IMF’s report as the government disagrees with the IMF statement (English).


Barbados’ economy is working hard. Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley said the debt restructuring program has saved the country (English). The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) okayed a loan of US$75m to the government of Barbados (English).


The Dialogue says Latin America is suffering a migrant crisis. Since 2015, an estimated 1.6 million Venezuelans have emigrated as the result of the economic crisis (English). More than 1,500 Central Americans are crossing Mexico and heading to the United States to escape violence and poverty (English).


The UN condemned the US embargo of Cuba. The UN General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a resolution that condemned the American economic embargo of Cuba (English). The resolution rejected US amendments questioning the lack of human rights on the island.


S&P confirmed Guatemala’s BB- rating. Standard & Poor’s confirmed the BB- rating for Guatemala and maintained its stable outlook (Spanish). The rating agency considered the frequent political instability and the weakness of the governmental institutions.



Oil & Gas Upstream


Chinese investment in a Russian company will keep Grenada’s oil exploration going. The Russian Global Petroleum Group (GPG) received financing from a Chinese company so it can drill three more wells (English). Trinidad and Tobago’s National Gas Company has reached a commercial agreement with GPG to have the first option to buy Grenada’s natural gas.


Repsol’s production in the Caribbean sank… In Latin America and the Caribbean regions, the Spanish company’s gas production dropped in the third quarter to 234,000 boe/d from 243,000 boe/d a year earlier (English). The reasons are the declining gas demand from Venezuela’s Cardon IV field and the natural field decline.


…and Ecopetrol’s production is soaring. In the third quarter of 2018, Ecopetrol’s average production reached 724,000 oil barrels per day, the highest production in the last 10 quarters (Spanish). Ecopetrol’s gross profit reached COL$8.9 billion between January and September (Spanish).


Fracking will arrive in Colombia in 2019. Ecopetrol’s first fracking project will take place in the Magdalena Medio region. The impacts and benefits that the technique would bring to the country (Spanish) will be evaluated by academics, communities, and environmentalists, among others.


An ex-PDVSA executive was involved in a money-laundering scheme. A former top official of PDVSA admitted he took bribes and wired them to the US and other financial institutions as part of a US$1.2bn money-laundering scheme (English). The official gave “priority” to Venezuelan companies that did business with the government to have access to oil income.



Oil & Gas Downstream


Bahamian businesses are suffering from high fuel prices. Crude oil prices have risen as high as US$80 per barrel in the past months and local businesses said fuel costs are putting immense pressure on their businesses, especially in the transportation sector. Consumers are going to feel the increase in fuel prices, absorbing the raise (English).


Petrotrin’s transition went smoothly. Petrotrin has transitioned from refining crude to exporting crude oil and importing refined fuel (English). Petrotrin sent the first 500,000 barrels of Molo crude oil in the Hellspoint Progress tanker (English) and received its first shipment of refined fuel.


Curacao is seeking help for the Isla oil refinery. Curacao will sign MOUs with third parties from the US and Europe in the next two weeks (English) to restore the 220,000 b/d Isla oil refinery. PdV’s lease on the refinery expires at the end of 2019.


PDVSA paid Conoco US$345m in cash. ConocoPhillips received US$345m in cash and commodities in the last quarter from the Venezuelan state oil firm (English). The payment arrived months after Conoco obtained the right to seize most of PDVSA’s inventories.



Renewables & Electricity


Bermuda will set feed-in tariffs in 2019. The Regulatory Authority of Bermuda began reviewing the payments to compensate renewable energy producers for adding power into Belco’s grid (English). The goal is to have the feed-in tariffs established next year.


CDB will lend a hand with Dominica’s energy audits. The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) is helping Dominica to conduct energy audits on 15 public buildings and facilities. The Bank’s Sustainable Energy for the Eastern Caribbean (SEEC) Program provides resources for energy security issues (English).


Jamaica paid for its streetlights. The Jamaican government cleared more than JMD$7bn in debt owed to the Jamaica Public Service Company for streetlights (English). The payment was made to have defective streetlights repaired and new ones installed.


Only half of Haiti’s EDH clients pay for power. The company Electricité d’Haïti explained that only 51.5% of their clients paid their bill for the month of August. Unpaid bills from small consumers and clients from different sectors amounted to US$235m (French).


Guatemala’s grid is expanding, but requires investment. Energy sector representatives point to the need to strengthen and invest in the development of the power energy grid (Spanish). The Expansion Plan of the Power Transportation System is 73% complete (Spanish).



Old School Social


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


The 10th Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum will be held November 7-9 at the JW Marriott Marquis, in Miami, Florida.


The IEEE Concapan 2018 XXXVIII Convención de Centroamérica y Panamá is scheduled for November 7-9 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, in San Salvador, El Salvador.


The S&P Global Platts 19th Annual Caribbean Energy Conference will be held January 24-25 at the Renaissance Santo Domingo Jaragua Hotel & Casino, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Every year, attendees gather from all over the Caribbean, the Americas, and Europe to discuss the events and trends in Caribbean energy. Meet with private and public energy companies working in the Caribbean, plus investors and project financiers. For more information including an agenda and speaker line-up:



Lateral Thinking


Amazons had chocolate way before the Mayans. An Amazonian culture in today’s Ecuador consumed cacao products between 5,450 and 5,300 years ago, while Olmec and Mayan societies started using them 1,500 years later (English). Ceramic objects containing cacao were found around household structures and the tombs at Santa Ana-La Florida.



Quote of the Week


“La reconciliación es más bella que la victoria.”


“Reconciliation is more beautiful than victory.”



– Violeta Chamorro (1929), Nicaraguan politician and former president.



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