The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


November 11, 2019 edition– El Salvador’s solar; St. Croix’s refinery; and BPC’s drilling.




Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. El Salvador will prepare an auction for a 20MW solar plant; El Salvador’s CEL will decide on El Chaparral in 2020; and how viable is a Mexican-Central American pipeline?


Greater Antilles / Northern Islands. PdV helped out Cuba and its shortage; the IMF visited Jamaica; and the Dominican Republic’s trade was hit by Haiti’s crisis.


Lesser Antilles / Southern Islands. The St. Croix refinery is going back online in 2020; Barbados and T&T join up to hunt for gas; and Dominica finished its geothermal well tests.


South America’s Caribbean Coast. Venezuela okayed Rosneft’s development of natural gas fields; fracking could bring life to Colombia’s production; and Venezuela managed to sell part of its inventory.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in the Dominican Republic’s economy (English); and the possibility of a natural gas complex in that Caribbean nation (English).



Political Economy


Belize will strengthen its tax administration. The Prime Minister of Belize and the Inter-American Development Bank signed a loan agreement of US$14m to strengthen tax administration in the Central American nation (English). The goal is to improve operational processes and modernize the technological infrastructure.


Venezuela is fighting with El Salvador and Guatemala. Venezuela expelled El Salvador’s diplomats in response to El Salvador’s decision to tell Venezuelan diplomats to leave (English). Guatemalan President-elect Giammattei said he will break off diplomatic relations with Maduro’s government when he takes office (English).


The Dominican Republic’s trade was hit by Haiti’s crisis. The Caribbean nation lost US$37.7m in trade with Haiti after several weeks of protests (English). Exports to Haiti are 9% of the DR’s total, surpassed only by the US, the country’s main trade partner.


The IMF visited Jamaica. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recognized Jamaica’s efforts and commitment to reforms under two programs that have lasted 6½ years. Jamaica is on its way to meet its debt target of 60% of GDP by March 2026 (English).



Oil & Gas Upstream


Venezuela will have Rosneft develop two natural gas fields. The nation modified the cooperation agreement signed with Russia’s Rosneft to boost the development of two offshore natural gas fields in the Patao and Mejillones fields (English). In October, Rosneft took 62% of Venezuela’s total oil exports.


The BPC is ready to start drilling. The Bahamas Petroleum Company secured the financing needed for its first exploratory well (English) and can drill an exploratory well by the 2020 target set by the government (English). The oil rig will only be on site for 60 days during the first half of 2020.


Fracking could bring new life to Colombia’s production. Colombia’s Oil and Mining Minister said that fracking in existing fields could boost Colombia’s oil reserves to 11 years from 5.7 years and gas to 30 years from 15 years (English). Companies such as ExxonMobil, Conoco Phillips, Parex, and Ecopetrol have shown interest in starting pilot fracking projects.


Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago will look for gas together. Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago signed an agreement to explore for natural gas at the overlapping nautical point of their exclusive economic zones (English). The agreement is the first step to ease the legal framework for oil companies interested in their petroleum wells.



Oil & Gas Downstream


The St. Croix refinery is going back online in 2020. The St. Croix oil refinery refurbishment is 75% complete and fuel deliveries will start in 2020 (English). The plant will be able to process 210,000 barrels of oil per day.


How viable is a Mexican-Central American pipeline? Mexico plans to build a 600km pipeline to carry US natural gas into Central America to lower the costs of the fuel in the region (Spanish). The project will face challenges such as the negotiation of the right-of-way and the intricacy of the territory.


PdV helped out Cuba and its shortage. Venezuela’s PdV increased its crude and refined products supply to the island in the last weeks (English). PdV increased its production and blending operations with no place to store unsold barrels.


Venezuela managed to sell part of its inventory. Venezuela’s oil exports reached 812,775 barrels per day for the second month in a row. Venezuela’s October exports were 3.7% lower than in September (English). US sanctions have limited its clients to China, Russia, and Cuba.



Renewables & Electricity


Dominica finished its geothermal well tests. The Dominica Geothermal Development Company (DGDC) finished testing its geothermal production well for its planned geothermal power plant in Laudat (English). The DGDC clarified that the steam plume and the noise levels evidenced during the tests will not occur during the operation of the plant.


El Salvador will prepare an auction for a 20MW solar plant. El Salvador plans to build a new solar plant in Usulután with a capacity of 20MW, requiring an approximate investment of US$19m (Spanish). If it is approved by the legislative assembly, CEL will start the bidding in 2020.


Turks and Caicos will boost clean energy transition. The government of the Turks and Caicos Islands signed a memorandum of understanding with FortisTCI and the Clinton Foundation to start the country’s transition into renewables (English). The Resilient National Energy Transition Strategy will cover the period between 2019 and 2040.


El Salvador’s CEL will decide on El Chaparral in 2020. The Executive Hydropower Commission of Río Lempa (CEL) will decide in 2020 if the construction of the EL Chaparral hydroelectric dam will continue or stop (Spanish). CEL will develop an audit to determine the project’s viability.


Colombia will reach 11% solar capacity. Thanks to its power auction, Colombia will add 2,200MW of solar and wind energy to its generation capacity by 2022, reaching 11% of the national installed capacity (Spanish). The megawatts will add to the 64% of hydroelectric generation in Colombia.



Old School Social


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


Seminario Latinoamericano de GLP is scheduled for November 12-14 in Quito, Ecuador.


Expo Oil and Gas Colombia 2019 will be held November 23-26 at Corferias – Centro de Convenciones in Bogotá, Colombia.


S&P Global Platts 20th Annual Caribbean Energy Conference is scheduled for January 29-31 at Wyndham Grand Rio Mar, in Puerto Rico. The leading energy conference in the Caribbean gathers global professionals to discuss regional trends, including power finance and investment, fuel options, IMO, microgrids, infrastructure, natural gas, and much more.



Lateral Thinking


The lives of enslaved Africans were excavated. Artifacts that emerged from excavation work in the Virgin Islands in Christiansted offered information on the lives of enslaved Africans (English). Enslaved Africans lived on Estate Little Princess from 1749 until slavery was abolished in 1848.



Quote of the Week


“Their hearts began to swell with the pity that one feels for a fellow being who has lost both his way and his sense of purpose.”



– Caryl Phillips (1958), Kittitian-British novelist, playwright, and essayist.




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