The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


October 12, 2020 edition–Cuba’s oil tankers; BPTT’s GEP; and Colombia’s renewables.



Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. Panamá’s homes need more power; and Fitch is concerned about El Salvador’s budget.


Greater Antilles / Northern Islands. New Fortress Energy may be facing trouble in Puerto Rico; eight oil tankers head toward Cuba; and Punta Catalina’s sale may not happen.


Lesser Antilles / Southern Islands. BP Trinidad & Tobago cut the ribbon on the GEP; St Croix’s power is going underground; and the OWTU is confident the oil refinery is theirs to lose.


South America’s Caribbean Coast. Oxy and Carlyle reached an agreement in Colombia; PDVSA boosted crude blending; and Guyana’s oil dreams may become nightmares.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in Punta Catalina’s sale (Dominican Today – English); Antigua and Barbuda’s renewables (Oil and Gas 360 – English); and GEB’s natural gas plans (BN Americas – English).



Government & NGO


Fitch is concerned with El Salvador’s budget. The international rating agency warned that there is a high risk in the 2021 budget due to the indebtedness (El Mundo – Spanish). El Salvador has a risk rating of B-, which changed from stable to negative in April.


The Dominican Republic’s debt reached 57.57% of the GDP. The Dominican Republic’s central bank reported that through June 2020, the public debt amounts to 57.57% of the GDP (32.3% of external debt and 25.3% internal) (Dominican Today – English).


WHO is worried about the COVID-19 spike in the Caribbean. The World Health Organization (WHO) is concerned about spikes in COVID-19 cases in Caribbean nations, such as Cuba and Jamaica, and 11 Caribbean states that have moved from moderate to intense transmission (Reuters – English).


Haiti, the only Caribbean country enjoying the IMF new initiative. Haiti is the only Caribbean nation that will benefit from the Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT), providing a second six-month tranche of debt service relief (Jamaica Observer – English). The program also enables the disbursement of grants from the CCRT for payment of eligible debt service coming due to the IMF from October 14, 2020 to April 13, 2021.



Oil & Gas Upstream


Oxy and Carlyle reached an agreement in Colombia. Occidental Petroleum will sell its onshore oil assets in the Caribbean nation to the Carlyle Group for US$825m. The assets include 14 exploration and production blocks in the Llanos Norte, Middle Magdalena, and Putumayo basins with 33,000 barrels daily of net oil production (Argus Media – English).


Bahamians discuss oil exploration’s effects. Environmental activists said they were concerned despite Bahamas Petroleum Company’s assurance that its insurance will cover all costs associated with an oil spill (Tribune 242 – English). The company assured the insurance would cover any tourism losses, but a prominent Bahamian dive operator disagrees (Tribune 242 – English).


Guyana’s oil dreams may become nightmares. The COVID19 crisis has delayed production and slashed oil demand in Guyana (The St. Kitts Nevis Observer – English). Guyana may show warning signs of the “resource course,” in which a country’s new oil wealth hits other productive economic sectors.



Liquid Fuels Mid-Downstream


The OWTU is confident the oil refinery is theirs to lose. The Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) remains confident that a deal will be reached with the government this month for the sale of the oil refinery (CBC – English).


PDVSA boosted crude blending. Venezuela’s state-owned company increased crude blending and upgrading to their highest levels in six months, as exports rise despite the US sanctions (Reuters – English). The upgrades are crucial to converting extra-heavy oil from eastern Venezuela’s Orinoco belt into exportable crude grades.


Eight oil tankers head towards Cuba. Eight oil tankers carrying Venezuelan fuel have been directed to Cuba (Diario de Cuba – Spanish). Meanwhile, Venezuela continues to experience a severe fuel crisis, generating long lines in gas stations.


Venezuela turned to Asia to avoid sanctions. As PDVSA’s overseas bank accounts are frozen, the company has agreed with Tipco Asphalt on the following: In exchange for discounts on oil, Tipco would pay PDVSA’s bills and deduct the amounts from what it owes the Venezuelan oil giant (AP News – English).


BP Trinidad & Tobago cut the ribbon on the GEP. BP Trinidad & Tobago announced the start of the Galeota expansion project (GEP), restoring the terminal’s capacity to process 20,000 barrels per day of condensate (Energy Now – English). The project has been under construction since late 2016.


The PwC expected the sale of NP stations. According to the leader of PwC Trinidad & Tobago, the sale of gas stations owned by National Petroleum and the privatization of the Port-of-Spain were long overdue (Guardian – English).



Natural Gas Mid-Downstream & LNG


New Fortress Energy may be facing trouble in Puerto Rico. The FERC is evaluating the way New Fortress Energy (NFE) is importing liquified natural gas in Puerto Rico through its San Juan plant terminal ( – Spanish). NFE is accused of importing LNG from the US through Jamaica as a transfer spot.


Colombia may boost natural gas and LNG stations… The Grupo Energía Bogotá (GEB) presented an energy transition agenda for Colombia in the coming years, including changing 20-year-old heavyweight vehicles and the installation of natural gas and LNG vehicle stations (Valora Analitik – Spanish).


…and 150 natural gas buses will service Ciudad Bolívar. Approximately 157 of 300 gas vehicles will start operations in Ciudad Bolívar, following the Euro VI emission standards (El Espectador – Spanish). The goal is to improve the service and air quality in the region.



Electric Power & Renewables


Colombia turned to renewables to recover. After relying on oil for too long, Colombia plans to recover from the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic on three pillars: renewable energy, development of the poorest regions, and digital transformation (FT – English).


Guyana will cut its power bill. The Guyana government plans to reduce the cost of energy by 50% in five years (Caribbean National Weekly – English). The goal is to expand the energy mix including hydropower, natural gas, solar, and wind.


St Croix’s power is going underground. The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA) is launching its fourth electricity undergrounding project in St Croix (Smart Energy – English). Facilities that will benefit include pier operations and buildings, and the project has an estimated cost of US$2.5m.


Panamá’s homes need more power. In Panamá, during the first eight months of the year, home power demand reached 2,207 million kwh, 6% above the amount reported in the same period in 2019 (Central America Data – Spanish). The industrial sector’s demand fell 33 million kwh.


Punta Catalina’s sale may not happen. AES Dominicana’s president discarded his company’s purchase of a stake in the Punta Catalina Power Plant (CTPC) (Dominican Today – English). The Energy Ministry said the government has no intention to sell the coal-powered plant (Diario Libre – Spanish).



Old School Social Goes Viral


(Editor’s note: For the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak, this section will refocus on announcements of event delays or cancellations, events that are moved online, and scheduled webinars and public conference calls. Stay safe!)


The 12th Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum is scheduled for October 28-30.



Lateral Thinking


Barbados will strengthen its natural disaster response. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) will help Barbados strengthen its financial risk management of natural disasters and extreme climate events with a US$80m contingent loan (IADB – English). More than half of its residents live in zones at high risk from natural hazards.



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.”



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



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