The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean

October 9, 2017 edition— T&T offshore exploration halted; the Caribbean goes big on solar; and Jamaica needs LNG regulation.




Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. El Salvador will have ten new solar projects; Panamá cancelled solar plants’ licenses; and Nicaragua will upgrade its power system.


Greater Antilles. Energy and tax policies are needed for Jamaica’s LNG; the Dominican Republic auctioned a PPA; and ExxonMobil likes the DR’s oil and gas regulations.


Lesser Antilles. BHP Billiton stopped T&T offshore exploration; ExxonMobil got lucky again in Guyana; and Trinidad & Tobago will get gas through Dragon field.


Northern South America. Shell removed American citizens from the Dragon project in Venezuela and Suriname will invest in electricity distribution.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in Trinidad and Tobago’s LNG routes (English) and the challenges to Caribbean policy reform (English).



Political Economy


Trump visited Puerto Rico after aggressive tweets. Pres. Donald Trump visited American citizens on the island affected by Hurricane Maria, but accused Puerto Rico of throwing the US budget “out of whack” (English). Trump handed out supplies to disaster victims and met local officials.


The World Bank will prepare the Dominican Republic for future disasters. The World Bank Board approved a US$150m loan to the Dominican Republic to access immediate financing after a natural disaster (English). This Catastrophe Deferred Drawdown Option provides immediate financing to countries without touching social and development programs.


S&P declares El Salvador to be in “selective default”. After downgrading Barbados (English), Standard & Poor’s downgraded El Salvador’s credit to “selective default” after the government approved a reform to restructure sovereign debt on pensions (English) (Spanish). S&P downgraded the country’s long-term credit rating and short-term rating from CC and C, respectively, to SD.


Nate hit Central America hard, killing 22 people. Tropical storm Nate left eight deaths and 17 missing people in Costa Rica, while Nicaragua lost 11 citizens and thousands abandoned their homes to seek shelter (Spanish). Louisiana declared a state of emergency and ordered coastal areas to evacuate.



Oil & Gas Upstream


BHP Billiton hit the brakes on T&T offshore exploration. The Australian company has postponed the second phase of deepwater exploration offshore Trinidad and Tobago from 2017 fourth quarter to 2018 first quarter (English). The company said it couldn’t secure a drillship to finish the two-well program.


Shell removed American citizens from the Dragon project. The Dutch company pulled all American citizens and green-card holders from the projects with the governments of Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago, due to the US sanctions (English). The Dragon project will bring Venezuelan gas to Trinidad and Tobago and is now handled by non-Americans.


ExxonMobil gave the thumbs up to the DR soil and gas regulations. ExxonMobil valued positively the fiscal and regulatory models developed for the Dominican Republic’s oil and gas industry (English) (Spanish). ExxonMobil executives provided the Energy and Mines Minister information on seismic lines and a well drilled in the ocean.


ExxonMobil struck black gold yet again in Guyana. The oil giant announced a fifth oil discovery after drilling the Turbot-1 well offshore Guyana, adding to the discoveries of Liza, Payara, Snoek, and Liza Deep (English). The Stena Carron drillship will move to the Ranger prospect after drilling the18,445-foot well.



Oil & Gas Downstream


Tax policies are needed for Jamaica’s LNG. The Inter-American Development Bank qualified Jamaica’s interest in introducing liquefied natural gas as an important step forward towards energy diversification (English). Energy and tax policies should be developed as well as technical and safety standards (English).


Trinidad & Tobago’s NGC vented gas again. The National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago (NGC) announced a controlled venting of natural gas at the Sasenarine Service Station (English). The goal was to change the existing station located along the Southern Main Road, at Chaguanas.


The price of all fuels fell in Nicaragua. Fuel prices were reduced by between 1.85 and 2.41 cordobas per gallon. Regular gasoline will be 2.41 cordobas cheaper per gallon while diesel prices will be reduced by 1.95 cordobas per gallon (Spanish).


Gas may reach T&T through the Dragon field. Shell announced Venezuela’s Dragon gas field would deliver gas to Trinidad & Tobago by 2019-2020 (English). The island currently produces three billion cubic feet (Bcf) of gas per day, while its demand is just over four Bcf per day.



Renewables & Electricity


After hurricanes, renewable energy seems like a solid bet. Hurricanes Irma and Maria destroyed islands’ electrical power supply, making small-scale solar electric systems seem attractive, although not cheap (English). The Rocky Mountain Institute, the Caribbean Development Bank and the European Union will work on renewable energy projects (English).


El Salvador will shine brighter… AES El Salvador and Corporación Multi Inversiones announced an investment plan to construct ten solar plants with a combined capacity of 100MW (Spanish). The projects will be developed in three phases.


…and so will Saint Lucia. Saint Lucia launched a project to construct a three-megawatt solar farm in the south (English).  The solar farm will use 14,900 photovoltaic panels which could power nearly 3,500 homes.


The Dominican Republic auctioned off a power supply contract. The committee expedited a power purchase agreement and received administrative and technical tender offers from power companies (English). The auction came after the US$900m scandal of alleged overruns in the Punta Catalina plant’s construction.


Nicaragua and Suriname will upgrade their power systems. The Inter-American Development Bank approved a US$65m loan to help Nicaragua guarantee the operational sustainability of its electricity sector (English). The Caribbean Development Bank and the Government of Suriname plan to upgrade 36.6km of sub-transmission and distribution lines (English).


Panamá shut down four solar plants’ licenses. In the last two months, the National Authority of Public Services cancelled four licenses to construct solar plants with a combined installed capacity of 60MW (Spanish). GED Gersol Dos, Ener Solar I, Ener Solar II, and Ipower Corp had their licenses cancelled.



Lateral Thinking


Dominican whales are under the Environment Ministry’s wing. The Dominican Republic’s Environment Ministry published new procedures for companies and individuals touring to Samaná Bay and Banco de la Playa during the whale watching season, from January to March (English). The norm establishes the capacity, size, and usage characteristics for vessels.



Quote of the Week


“It matters not what a person is born, but who they choose to be.”


-Dr Cheddi Jagan (1918-1997), President of Guyana from 1992 to 1997.



We hope you have a productive week. Please send any news, comments, or new regulations to protect whales to


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