The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


October 1, 2018 edition–AES solar plant; Ecopetrol’s salary push; and Venezuela’s sanctions.




Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. AES started the third phase of the solar plant in La Unión; Guatemala’s renewables reach 65%; and Panamá will power up with sugar.


Greater Antilles. The Dominican Republic lowered prices to avoid a truckers’ walkout; Fitch maintains the Dominican Republic’s rating at BB-; and the new Cuban president addressed the UN assembly.


Lesser Antilles. A global oil company ended exclusive talks in the Bahamas; the St. Croix refinery will be guided by an ex-Hess executive; and Dominica is happy with its geothermal plant.


South America’s Caribbean Coast. Ecopetrol agreed on a salary boost to end the strike; Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago signed the MOU; and the US sanctioned Maduro’s wife and may hit light oil.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in the shipping company joining the wind farm construction (English); and the CEOG power plant (English).



Political Economy


The US and China compete over the Dominican Republic. China’s top diplomat opened the Chinese embassy in the Dominican Republic (English). The US and China have been competing for influence in Central America and the Caribbean (English), and more specifically in the Dominican Republic since the country cut ties with Taiwan.


The new Cuban president addressed the UN assembly. Miguel Díaz-Canel addressed the United Nations, maintaining the tone of his predecessors’ speeches, criticizing the economic embargo the US maintains against Cuba and the Guantanamo occupation (English). The Cuban President met US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker to discuss tense bilateral relations (English).


The IMF was busy in Belize, Jamaica, and Trinidad & Tobago. The IMF said Belize’s economy is strengthening thanks to a favorable global environment (English), while Jamaica’s economic growth is projected to reach 1.4% in 2018/2019 (English). The IMF recommended Trinidad & Tobago complete its fiscal adjustment while reducing reliance on the energy sector (English).


Fitch maintained the Dominican Republic’s rating at BB-. The international rating agency affirmed the Dominican Republic’s long-term foreign currency issues default rating at BB- with a stable outlook (English). Fitch rated the AES Andres at BB- on rating “watch negative,” affecting US$270m of notes due in 2026 (English).


Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao and Turks and Caicos will strengthen SMEs. The ministers from Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, and the Turks and Caicos Islands signed a joint declaration of intent to strengthen the small-medium business environment through collaboration and cooperation on a regional level (English).


Guatemala refused to readmit UN graft investigator. Guatemala’s government maintains its refusal to readmit the head of a UN commission investigating corruption in the country, including one case against President Jimmy Morales (English). It is the second time Morales’ government opted not to follow orders from the court.



Oil & Gas Upstream


A global oil company ended exclusive talks in Bahamas. A Bahamas oil explorer is involved in joint venture talks with “multiple parties” after a “global oil company” ended their exclusive negotiations (English). The B$1m paid for the exclusivity by the “oil major” and the previously raised funding had amounted to B$6m.


Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago signed an MOU. The leaders of Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Energy Sector Cooperation (English). The MOU will not harm the interests of either of the states.


The US sanctioned Maduro’s wife and may hit light oil. The US sanctioned Venezuela’s first lady and three top officials, pushing for an international investigation into crimes against humanity (English). Analysts expect possible bans on US exports of light oil to Venezuela, while a ban on US imports of Venezuelan crude oil is not planned (English).


Ecopetrol agreed to a salary boost to end the strike. Ecopetrol agreed to a salary increase, finishing its labor dispute with the petroleum workers union (English). The agreement includes decisions related to education, healthcare, loans, and transportation.



Oil & Gas Downstream


The Petrotrin union held talks with the opposition over the refinery. The Trinidad & Tobago government held its position to shut down the oil refinery after the union representing the refinery workers held talks with the main opposition, United National Congress (UNC) (English). The opposition shares the opinion that the company “can be turned around.”


The Dominican Republic lowered prices to avoid a truckers’ walkout. The Industry and Commerce Ministry dropped fuel prices to avoid a nationwide walkout to protest increasing fuel prices by the country’s biggest truckers’ union (English).


The St. Croix refinery will be guided by an ex-Hess executive. A former Hess Corp. executive will oversee the return to service of the oil refinery in the US Virgin Islands (English). The goal is to begin production by early 2020.


BPL is working on cutting fuel losses. Bahamas Power & Light (BPL) is fighting fuel theft and waste so Bahamian businesses and households won’t have to pay an extra charge in the fuel charge component of their bills (English).



Renewables & Electricity


AES had good news for El Salvador, and bad news for the DR. AES started the third phase of the solar plant in La Unión, with ES$16m in investment (Spanish). AES will restore AES Andrés’ 300MW capacity into the national grid by next February (English).


Panamá will power up with sugar. The Alanje mill plans to build a power generating plant to operate for 120 days each year, thanks to the sugar harvest (Spanish). The plant would be the first of its type in Panamá and will open in 2019.


The Dominican Republic is into renewable energy. The National Commission of Energy (CNE) said investors are interested in the renewable energy sector in the Dominican Republic, with possible investments of more than US$600m (Spanish). The country already has US$620m in investment, including the Montecristi Solar plant.


Dominica is happy with its geothermal plant. The Dominican government says the geothermal program is proceeding “on track” (Spanish). The World Bank delegation was impressed with the progress made in the geothermal development program, to which the institution has provided US$17m.


Guatemala’s renewables reach 65%. Renewable energy sources represent between 65% and 70% of the power supply (Spanish). According to the Center of National Economic Research (CIEN), the goal of the country is to reach 80% in the next eight years.



Old School Social


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


Energía Colombia 2018 is scheduled for October 23-24 at the J. W. Marriott Bogotá, in Bogotá, Colombia.



Lateral Thinking


Archeologists rescued a 1,500-year-old altar in Guatemala. A 1,500-year-old carved altar was discovered in 2017 at La Corona, in Petén, encased in the roots of a tree in a collapsed temple (English). The altar, representing the king Chak Took Ich’aak, was completely excavated and moved to Guatemala City.



Quote of the Week


“Cuando la historia no se puede escribir con la pluma, entonces debe escribirse con el fusil.”


“When history cannot be written with the pen, then it must be written with the rifle.”



– Farabundo Martí (1893-1932), Marxist-Leninist activist and a revolutionary leader in El Salvador.



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