The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


October 7, 2019 edition– Colombia’s oil round; URCA’s rules on renewables; and Haiti’s crisis.




Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. Guatemala published a power auction for Quetzaltenango; and Central American private generators may be able to export power.


Greater Antilles. Haiti’s crisis deepens; Refidomsa PDV saved the day purchasing 80,000 barrels to normalize fuel supply; and the Cobra Energy scandal continues.


Lesser Antilles. The BPC has received four additional financing offers; URCA published the rules for Renewable Energy Self-Generation Projects; and Barbados and the IDB will boost renewables.


South America’s Caribbean Coast. Colombia expects to sign 20 contracts in its oil round; ExxonMobil has the Canje Block in sight; and Ecopetrol has a fracking pilot ready for 2020.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in the US’ natural gas terminal in the Dominican Republic (English); FERC’s Jacksonville export facility authorization (English); and Costa Rica’s oil exploration vote (English).



Political Economy


Jamaica maintained its interest rate. The Bank of Jamaica said that the policy interest rate offered on overnight balances from deposit-taking institutions will be maintained at 0.5% (English). The reason is that monetary conditions are “generally appropriate” to support the achievement of the inflation target range of between 4% and 6%.


S&P upgraded Jamaica’s sovereign credit rating. The international rating agency increased Jamaica’s sovereign credit rating to B+ from B, with a stable outlook (English). S&P also maintained Jamaica’s B short-term foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings.


Scotiabank will not sell its Guyana operations. The Bank of Nova Scotia said it will not continue with the proposed sale of its operations in Guyana, as the action generated opposition from the central bank (English). The Bank of Guyana mentioned concerns about concentration and competition in denying Scotiabank permission.


Haiti’s crisis deepens. Haitian police answered protesters with tear gas and live ammunition (English). The Dominican Republic requested a meeting of the United Nations to analyze the Haitian crisis (Spanish).


The IMF is happy with the Dominican Republic’s performance. The International Monetary Fund’s director for the Western Hemisphere pointed out the Caribbean nation’s rapid growth over the last five years (English). The Dominican Republic’s economy is the fastest growing in Latin America and the Caribbean and the ninth fastest in the world.



Oil & Gas Upstream


SBM Offshore started the Liza Unity FPSO. SBM Offshore began its scope for the construction phase of Liza Unity following a final investment decision (FID) by ExxonMobil. The Liza Unity FPSO design is based on the Fast4Ward program, and the experience gained on Liza Destiny has fast-tracked the Liza Unity (English).


ExxonMobil has the Canje Block in sight. ExxonMobil is planning exploration activity in the Canje block for 2020 (English). The Canje block is located 300km offshore Guyana, and the two wildcats have been identified as the Bulletwood and Jabillo wells.


The BPC has received four additional financing offers. The oil explorer mentioned some of the four additional financing offers that it has received to cover the costs of its first exploratory well, between US$20 and US$25m (English). The company has focused on securing funding via a farm-in agreement, and farm-in discussions are continuing.


Colombia expects to sign 20 contracts in its oil round. The head of the national hydrocarbons agency said that the country hopes to sign 20 contracts for oil exploration and production in the next auction. Colombia is offering 59 blocks in the auction, five of which are offshore, and 24 have potential for gas production (English).


Ecopetrol has a fracking pilot ready for 2020. The Colombian state-owned company plans to start a fracking pilot project in the second half of 2020 (English). Ecopetrol is waiting to receive federal regulatory guidelines for the projects, and the pilots could determine if large-scale fracking will be allowed.



Oil & Gas Downstream


Unipec relies on Colombian crude. Unipec purchased 6.5 million barrels of heavy sour grades in Colombia and Ecuador in September, to perhaps compensate for the crude barrels from Iran and Venezuela (English). The purchase was done before the drone attacks on Saudi Arabia, which is expected to pressure global crude supplies in coming months.


Refidomsa PDV saved the day purchasing 80,000 barrels to normalize fuel supply. The Dominican Petroleum Refinery (Refidomsa PDV) bought 80,000 barrels and pledged to dispatch 10,000 barrels of the imported fuel on September 29 to normalize supply (English).


Colombia and Venezuela fight over the pipeline attacks. Colombia accused Venezuela of harboring and coordinating with the National Liberation Army (ELN) and other Colombian insurgents to plan attacks against the Colombian state, including the Caño Limón crude pipeline that runs along the border (English).


Citgo is looking for US help to face PDVSA bondholders. Citgo’s chairwoman asked the US president to act and prevent holders of PDVSA’s bonds from taking control of Citgo Petroleum (English). The Trump administration has been warned against further involvement in the company, as it would interfere with the free market.



Renewables & Electricity


URCA published the rules for Renewable Energy Self-Generation Projects. The Bahamas’ Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority published the guidelines for the approval of Renewable Energy Self-Generation Projects (RESG) projects. The rules refer to small commercial and government-owned projects, and the goal is to increase the use of renewable energy (English).


Guatemala published a power auction for Quetzaltenango. The Quetzaltenango municipality will auction the power supply to cover the demand in the area both for the social and non-social tariff (Spanish). The price of energy will be offered at the substations available in the area municipalities.


Central American private generators may be able to export power. A law presented before the Costa Rican Legislative Assembly proposed to reform the protocol that today does not allow private generators to sell power energy in the Central American market (Spanish).


Barbados and the IDB will boost renewables. Barbados will cut its dependence on imported fossil fuels with the help of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The Caribbean nation will increase its renewable energy capacity with a US$30m loan approved by the IDB (English).


The Cobra Energy soap opera continues. The former Cobra Energy president pleaded not guilty to the charges against him (English). The former executive was accused of eight criminal charges for allegedly organizing a fraud with FEMA funds to repair Puerto Rico’s electric power service after Hurricanes Irma and María.



Old School Social


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


Solar Asset Management Mexico & Central America will be held October 8-9 in Mexico City.


Blue Economy Caribbean 2019 is scheduled for October 15 at the JW Marriott Marquis in Miami.


11th Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum will be held October 16-18 at the JW Marriott Marquis in Miami.



Lateral Thinking


Martinique plans to limit its energy dependence. The Program of Territorial Management of Energy (PTME), Martinique’s territorial collective, and other organizations met to discuss the increase of renewable energy production to 56% by 2023 and the goal to limit the Caribbean nation’s energy dependency (French).



Quote of the Week


“Tengo en la palma de la mano esta vida sencilla y limpia como esas piedrecitas de los arroyos frecuentados solo por insectos y animalillos silvestres.”


“I have in my hand this simple and clean life, like those pebbles in the streams visited only by insects and wild animals.”


– Carmen Lyra (1888-1949), pseudonym of the first prominent female Costa Rican writer, born María Isabel Carvajal Quesada.




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