The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean

November 27, 2017 edition—BHP is back; PDVSA managers detained; and Nicaragua cut subsidies.




Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. Nicaragua will reduce power subsidies and El Salvador’s fuel prices went up.


Greater Antilles. US sanctions on Venezuela hit Jamaica’s oil; the Whitefish Energy controversy continues shaking Puerto Rico; and the Dominican Republic bet on storage systems and renewable.


Lesser Antilles. BHP will resume deepwater exploration in Trinidad; Bermuda asked Belco for a plan; and the UAE funded renewable energy projects in Barbados.


Northern South America. Venezuela’s oil production dropped and Venezuela detained 50 PDVSA managers.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in Guatemala’s 120MW electricity auction (Spanish); EGE Haina’s auction victory at the DR (Spanish); and the loan signed by IDB and Jamaica (English).



Political Economy


The Whitefish Energy controversy continues. Due to a payment dispute between Prepa and Whitefish Energy Holdings, Puerto Rico’s electricity service could be at risk (English). Puerto Rico Energy Commission analyzed Prepa’s contacts and found that Prepa provides an energy prepayment, plus a premium per megawatt-hour (English). Prepa’s executive director resigned (English) (Spanish).


The IMF had a busy week in the Caribbean. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) pledged to help hurricane-harmed Caribbean countries with recovery funding (English); did not dismiss the devaluation of the Barbados dollar (English); applauded Jamaica’s commitment to economic reforms (English).


The US will fund energy diversification in the Caribbean. The US State Department announced  US$4.3m to support Caribbean energy diversification (English). The fund will boost the Caribbean Energy Security Initiative and the Caribbean 2020 Strategy by providing funding and technical assistance.


The EU and the CDB will invest in Eastern Caribbean geothermal energy. The Caribbean Development Bank and the EU will contribute to the Geothermal Risk Mitigation Program for the Eastern Caribbean (English). The program will help develop 60MW of geothermal energy capacity in five countries.



Oil & Gas Upstream


BHP will restart its deepwater exploration in Trinidad. The Australian company will resume deepwater exploration in Trinidad’s east coast in the first quarter of 2018 (English). BHP Billiton will drill two exploratory wells in deepwater blocks TTAA3 and TTDAA 7, with the ultimate goal of drilling 10 wells.


Venezuela’s oil production dropped… Venezuela is struggling to produce enough crude oil to meet the country’s OPEC output target, hitting a 28-year low in October (English). Venezuela’s production fell 20,000 barrels per day per month since 2016, and 2017 production could fall by 250,000 bpd.


…and Venezuela detained 50 PDVSA managers. The Attorney General, Tarek William Saab, announced that 50 managers of PDVSA, six occupying high ranking positions, have been detained by the public Ministry (Spanish). The managers were accused of participating in corruption plots against the oil industry.


Petrotrin will take a “decisive action” after oil numbers don’t add up. Petrotrin’s Board pledged to take a “decisive action” after the independent report confirmed the discrepancy between reported oil production in its Exploration and Production Operations and the actual production (English). The board has commissioned Petrotrin’s Internal Audit Department to broaden the investigation back to 2016.



Oil & Gas Downstream


The DR enjoys cheaper gasoline prices… The Industry and Commerce Ministry published the fuel prices from Nov. 18 to Nov. 24, leaving regular gasoline at RD$206.7 per gallon and premium gasoline at RD$222.8 (English) (Spanish). Diesel prices increased RD$2.00 per gallon, reaching RD$167.5 per gallon.


…but El Salvador’s fuel prices rise. El Salvador’s Economy Ministry announced that diesel prices will increase by SVC$0.09 until December 4, selling at SVC$2.78 in the central area’s gas stations (Spanish). Special gasoline will be SVC$0.07 more expensive across the country.


Most DR gas stations operate with expired permits. The Industry and Commerce Ministry encouraged gas stations’ operators to renew their license and operating permits (Spanish). The ministry found 2,134 stations, 80% of the total 2,668 stations, have expired permits (English).


US sanctions on Venezuela hit Jamaica’s oil. Jamaica’s Energy Minister said the island has received “minimal or no crude products” from Venezuela for Petrojam in 2017 due to the US sanctions (English). The Jamaican administration is considering buying back Venezuela’s 49% share in Petrojam.


Aruba’s refinery improved worker accommodations. The first phase of the CITGO Aruba refinery refurbishment project is nearly completed (English). The construction of a 1,500-bed workers camp has helped the island economy, creating 150 jobs and demanding materials and services.



Renewables & Electricity


Bermuda’s regulatory authority asked Belco for a plan. Bermuda’s regulatory authority requested the Bermuda Electric Light Company Limited to send an Integrated Resource Plan proposal by February 2018 (English). Belco was awarded a Transmission, Distribution, and Retail license on October 27.


Nicaragua will cut power subsidies. Nicaragua’s government plans to cut power subsidies, affecting retirees and users that consume less than 150KWh per month (Spanish). The electricity sector adjustment plan will be executed between 2018 and 2022 with a US$65m loan from the Inter-American Development Bank.


The DR bet on storage systems and renewable. AES suggested to integrate energy storage systems into the Dominican energy market to create a sustainable and clean network (English). The executive vice-president of the Dominican Association of Electrical Industry (ADIE) announced the country invested in the sector to make 2,900MW of green energy available.


UAE funded renewable energy projects in Barbados. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund offered US$3.5m to finance two renewable energy initiatives (English). A 500KW solar photovoltaic system will be installed at a pumping station in St. John and the possibility of a charging facility for electric vehicles.


The DR modified its budget for Punta Catalina. The Finance Minister asked for a modification in the 2017 budget to increase to MXN29.5m construction financing for the Punta Catalina thermo-electrical plant (Spanish). The state-owned Electric Utility CEO (CDEEE) said disbursements for the power plant exceed US$1.7bn (English).



Lateral Thinking


Thirty “new” species found at Kaieteur National Park. Thirty species of fish, plants, and other creatures undiscovered until recently, have been found in Kaieteur National Park, Guyana (English). The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) made the announcement at the launch of the Kaieteur-Upper Potaro Biodiversity Assessment Survey Report.



Quote of the Week


“The most unpresentable persons are generally the most interesting.”


-Teresa de la Parra (1889-1936), Venezuelan novelist.



We hope you have a productive week. Please send any news, comments, or new species in Guyana to


Tell your friends and colleagues about the Weekly Brief! They can sign up for a free one-month trial  here.