The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


September 2, 2019 edition– Tullow’s new drilling; Ecopetrol’s robots; and LaGeo’s 80MW plans.



Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. LaGeo will add 80MW in four years; El Salvador cut the ribbon on its first charging station; and Nicaragua’s exports to Taiwan are on the rise.


Greater Antilles. The fight between ExxonMobil and Cuba continues since 1959; the IADB urged Jamaica to boost its energy sector; and Hurricane Dorian left Puerto Rico safe and sound.


Lesser Antilles. US Virgin Islands will rely on renewables; Tullow started drilling the Joe prospect; and Moody’s criticized BPL.


South America’s Caribbean Coast. Ecopetrol will use submarine robots for exploration; the Guyana election has still not been scheduled; and Colombia studies a multipurpose pipeline project.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in Haiti’s power grid (English); St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ lack of permeability (English); and Guatemala’s solar auction conflict (Spanish).


Political Economy


Nicaragua’s exports to Taiwan are on the rise. Trade between Taiwan and Nicaragua increased in the first half of the year by 48.76%, reaching US$61.07m in sales (Spanish). The increase has left Nicaragua with US$20m more than the US$41.05m obtained in the same period in the previous year.


T&T and Barbados will partner up on energy projects. Trinidad and  Tobago and Barbados signed a Memorandum of Understanding to cooperate on energy development for hydrocarbons beyond their maritime boundary, as a result of natural gas discoveries (English). The two nations may even consider signing a unitization treaty in the future.


The IADB urged Jamaica to boost its energy sector. The Inter-American Development Bank country representative for Jamaica said the country should change the way it thinks about energy, considering its importance in all economic sectors (English). The country expects to reduce its dependence on imported fuel and develop a more sustainable energy sector.


Moody’s criticized BPL. The international rating agency described the Bahamian energy sector as “a bottleneck to economic growth,” while not mentioning the daily outages that are affecting New Providence (English). Moody’s said BPL remains a risk to the government’s fiscal consolidation plans.


Hurricane Dorian left Puerto Rico safe and sound. The eye of hurricane Dorian missed the main island of Puerto Rico (English), and is intensifying as it heads towards Florida (English). President Donald Trump complained that “yet another big storm” is headed toward the island, mentioning the costs of the damage caused by previous hurricanes (English).



Oil & Gas Upstream


Environmentalists oppose The Bahamas’ oil exploration plans. Environmentalists said that the Bahamas Petroleum Company’s plan to drill an exploratory well in 2020 is “absolutely disturbing” (English). Activists demand the Bahamian government clarify its position on oil drilling, as the environmental ministry said that the government will not proceed with any offshore drilling.


Liza Destiny is at Guyana’s door… The first FPSO vessel for the Liza Development arrived at the Stabroek block on August 29 (English). The Liza Destiny can produce 120,000 barrels of oil per day and store 1.6 million barrels (English).


…and the Guyana election is still in limbo. After five months, neither the temporary government nor the Guyana election committee (Gecom) have set a date for the election. The political impasse has surrounded Guyana’s oil and gas sector with uncertainty, slowing new investment decisions (English).


Tullow started drilling the Joe prospect. After the Jethro Lobe discovery, Tullow and its partners began drilling the second wildcat in Guyana, the Joe prospect. Joe-1 was spud on August 25 using the Stena Forth drillship, and it will take three weeks to drill (English).


Shell Trinidad and Tobago published an expression of interest for supplier share fair. Shell Trinidad and Tobago published an expression of interest to assess local market capability and the extent of interested parties that can fulfill the scope of work (English). Shell Trinidad and Tobago is the operator of six blocks.


Ecopetrol will use submarine robots for exploration. The Colombian state-owned company will use four submarine drones to do oceanographic and geochemical exploration to aid in the search for hydrocarbons (English). Alseamar, the French company that designed and supplied the drone, will operate the equipment.



Oil & Gas Downstream


Fuel prices give Central America a break. Fuel prices went down again, with Panamá enjoying the lowest price of regular gasoline at US$2.93 per gallon and Costa Rica the highest at US$4.44 (Spanish). The reason for the drop is the increase in gasoline reserves in the US despite the US-China trade war.


Colombia studies a multipurpose pipeline project. The government has awarded a study on the technical and economic feasibility of a 300km-long fuel pipeline to Delvasto and Echeverría Asociados Consultores (English). The plan is to use the southwest pipeline to ensure supplies during contingencies.


The fight between ExxonMobil and Cuba continues—since 1959. ExxonMobil filed a suit against Cupet and Cimex, accusing the companies of continuing the use of confiscated property without compensation (English). ExxonMobil seeks compensation for a refinery and other installations seized by the government after 1959.


The OWTU is not a fan of Heritage’s changes. The Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) is not impressed with the changes announced by the government regarding the subsidiary companies of former Petrotrin. The Energy Minister announced the firing of Wilfred Espinet and the end of Mike Wylie’s contract (English).



Renewables & Electricity


Industry leaders urged public investment in El Salvador’s renewables… The Salvadorian Industry Association (ASI) urged the government to increase investment in renewable energy projects to comply with the growing demand of the industry sector and small consumers (Spanish). ASI said energy investment in El Salvador will surpass US$1.4bn in 2021.


…and LaGeo will add 80MW in four years. LaGeo plans to increase geothermal generation by 80MW in El Salvador in the next four years (Spanish). LaGeo already produces 204.4MW through two geothermal plants. The company is negotiating a US$232m loan with the World Bank for geothermal fields in Chinameca and San Vicente (English).


El Salvador cut the ribbon on its first charging station. El Salvador Delsur inaugurated the first charging station for electric vehicles in Santa Elena (English). The station has a 220V intermediary-type charger and will offer energy for free for the first six months.


US Virgin Islands will rely on renewables. The US Virgin Islands’ Water and Power Authority (WAPA) is receiving bids for the purchase and installation of four generators compatible with renewable fuels, which will add 40MW to the St. Thomas and St. John grid (English). WAPA’s transformation plan includes an increase in the use of renewables.



Old School Social


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


The Dominican Republic Grid Investment Forum will be held September 5 at the Intercontinental Santo Domingo, in Santo Domingo.



Lateral Thinking


A mysterious disease is killing corals in the Caribbean. Divers studying Caribbean reefs in the US Virgin Islands found lesions eating the tissues of hundreds of corals. Scientists suspect it is a disease first found off Florida in 2014, known as stony coral tissue loss disease (English).



Quote of the Week


“Vengo con olor a río, a lago, a pantano,

a olvido por minutos,

a calor en un pueblo perdido,

a cigarro fumado en la espera,

a polvo, a lluvia, a tiempo, a moho.”


“I come with smell of river, lake, swamp,

of forgetting for minutes,

of heat in a lost village,

of a smoked cigar while waiting,

of dust, of rain, of time, of mold.”


–  Jacinta Escudos (1961), Salvadorian writer.



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