The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


September 6, 2021 edition–Costa Rica’s offshore wind; Dominican natural gas transition; and the Canje block drilling.



Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. Costa Rica wants to use its offshore wind; El Salvador’s Acajutla natural gas plant will cut the ribbon in 2022; and Denmark and Costa Rica will partner up to end oil and gas exploration.


Greater Antilles / Northern Islands. The Dominican Republic will use its wind; Jamaica’s natural gas-powered bauxite refinery is out; and the Dominican Republic and South Korea will study the transition to natural gas.


Lesser Antilles / Southern Islands. Bermuda’s tankers celebrate the slow recovery; Barbados’ seaweed fuel may not be as good a solution as first thought; and NGC expanded its portfolio.


South America’s Caribbean Coast. ExxonMobil will drill in the Canje block; CNPC will help Venezuela’s oil production; and Solaer goes after Colombia’s sun.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in the Pacific LNG project’s risks (BN Americas – English); FlexLNG’s share buyback (Royal Gazette – English); and Trinidad & Tobago and Canada’s cooperation over hydrogen (Guardian – English).



Government & NGO


Jamaica’s economy grew 12.9%. The Caribbean nation’s economy expanded 12.9% in the second quarter, showing a recovery from the lockdown (Jamaica Gleaner – English). The quarterly growth still puts the economy below 2019 pre-pandemic levels.


The IMF is concerned with Barbados’ economic recovery. Barbados’ economic growth for the second half of 2021 and the first half of 2022 will depend on a gradual recovery of tourism (IMF – English). The economy is estimated to have grown 5.5% in the second quarter of 2021, compared to the second quarter in 2020.


The Dominican Republic will grow 7% in 2021. According to the Minister of Economy, Planning and Development, the Caribbean nation’s economy is forecasted to grow 7% in 2021. The Dominican economy may close the year with pre-COVID-19 growth levels (Dominican Today – English).


The ECLAC expects 5.9% growth in Latin America. The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) increased its economic growth forecast for the region to 5.9%, thanks to the reopening of economies and the relaxation of health measures (Reuters – English).


Denmark and Costa Rica will partner up to end oil and gas exploration. Both countries are working on creating an alliance of countries willing to set a date to phase out oil and gas production and to stop giving permits for new exploration (Reuters – English).



Oil & Gas Upstream


ExxonMobil will drill in the Canje block. The oil giant spud the Sapote-1 well on Aug 28 offshore Guyana (OGJ – English). Sapote-1 will be drilled by the Stena DrillMAX drillship and is expected to take 60 days.


Venezuela’s crude production plummeted. The Caribbean nation’s crude production fell to 520,000 barrels per day (Platts – English). Recurrent power supply failures and the lack of diluents for extra-heavy crude have affected PDVSA’s recovery plan.


Ecopetrol may issue some shares. The board of Colombia’s state-owned company approved the possible issuance of shares that may reduce the country’s share to 80% over five years (Reuters — English). The money raised from the issuance will be used to fund projects to boost organic growth, inorganic growth opportunities, and debt reduction.


Inpex sold Venezuelan assets. The Japanese oil company sold its 70% stake in the Gas Guarico natural gas partnership with PDVSA and its 30% stake in the Petroguarico oil joint venture to Sucre Energy Group (Reuters – English).


CNPC will help Venezuela’s oil production. China National Petroleum Corp. is sending engineers and commercial staff to the Caribbean nation and is vetting local companies for maintenance work at an oil-blending facility it operates with PDVSA (Bloomberg – English). CNPC is also contacting local service providers to boost crude output at five other ventures.


NG Energy plans to boost Colombia’s gas production. The Canadian company plans to contribute to Colombia’s natural gas production with two of its conventional onshore blocks, Maria Conchita and flagship SINU-9 (Benzinga – English). NGE is currently building a 14 km pipeline to tie Maria Conchita into the main TGI pipeline.


NGC expanded its portfolio. The National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (NGC) acquired Heritage Petroleum Company Limited’s Non-Operated Joint Venture participating interest in Block 3(a) (Energy Now – English). The company increased its participating interest in the block from 11.41% to 31.54%.



Liquid Fuels Mid-Downstream


Diluent scarcity hit Venezuela’s fuel exports. In August, 26 cargoes of crude and refined products were exported, a 16% decrease from the previous month (Nasdaq – English). The reason was a lack of diluents to produce PDVSA flagship crude grades.


Bermuda’s tankers celebrate the slow recovery. Bermuda-based Nordic American Tankers expect an increase in oil demand will help them recover from the losses suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic (Royal Gazette – English). The company is planning to sell a few of its vessels and purchase a similar number of more recent ships.



Natural Gas Mid-Downstream & LNG


The Dominican Republic and South Korea will study the transition to natural gas. The Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Mipymes and the South Korean state-owned company Korea Gas Corporation (KOGAS) analyzed opportunities for the transformation of the electricity and fuel generation matrices to complement the country’s electricity and mobility with other alternatives (BN Americas – English).


El Salvador’s Acajutla natural gas plant will cut the ribbon in 2022. The Energía del Pacífico’s (EDP) project has 92% progress and expects to start the testing phase at the beginning of 2022 (El Mundo – Spanish). The LNG storage barge is expected to arrive in October.


Jamaica’s natural gas-powered bauxite refinery is out. A major fire at Jamaica’s second-biggest bauxite refinery caused an explosion in the powerhouse of the Jamalco plant powered by natural gas (Argus Media – English). The powerhouse is significantly damaged. The power plant also supplied power to the island’s grid operator JPS.


Seaweed fuel may not be as good a solution as first thought. According to a study, the use of sargassum seaweed as a fuel source could face safety issues, as it includes biomethane operations, and there are also storage problems, as Barbados does not store natural gas (Jamaica Gleaner – English).



Electric Power & Renewables


The Dominican Republic will use its wind. The second phase of the Los Guzmancito wind farm project started, adding 50MW to the already operational 48.3MW Los Guzmancito wind farm in Puerto Plata (Renewables Now – English). The first phase has been online since 2019.


The sun may power up Colombia’s mines. Drummond and EDF Renovables signed an agreement to evaluate solar energy projects to power up Drummond’s works in mining zones in Colombia (PV Magazine – Spanish). The generation capacity of the solar plants was not announced.


Solaer goes after Colombia’s sun. The Spanish developer secured the declaration of public and social interest from the Ministry of Mines and Energy over several pieces of property it needs to build five 19.5MW solar farms (Renewables Now – English).


Luma Energy will have to explain the recent power cuts. Luma Energy will have to explain what measures have been undertaken to avoid leaving thousands of clients without service in recent days (EFE – Spanish). The Electric Energy Agency will have to explain generation capacity issues on the island.


Colombia’s renewables auction was a success. The Caribbean nation’s third renewable energy auction gained the attention of 107 companies seeking pre-qualification (Renewables Now – English). Of the total, 55 companies registered as off-takers, with 52 wanting to sell power from non-conventional renewable energy sources.


Costa Rica wants to use its offshore wind. The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) and Costa Rica energy agencies are working together to establish a route for offshore wind development in the Central American country (Renewables Now – English).



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 8th Geothermal Congress for Latin America and the Caribbean will be held on September 8-10.


The Geothermal Direct Use: Global Forum & Tour is scheduled for September 27-29.


The Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum will be held on October 27-28.



Lateral Thinking


Cheap power turns Venezuela into a cryptocurrency paradise. In the Caribbean nation, the power service is subsidized, making cryptocurrency mining a cheap option to earn dollars (Expansión – Spanish). Power cuts in the provinces and slow broadband do not affect the process.



Quote of the Week


“El amor no es ciego como reza el refrán; lo que ocurre es que los amantes inventan lo que no es y ven lo que no existe.”


“Love is not blind as the saying goes; what happens is that lovers invent what it is not and see what does not exist.”



– Daína Chaviano (1957), Cuban American writer.




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