The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


September 14, 2020 edition–Nicaragua’s new law; ExxonMobil’s discovery; and BPTT’s extensions.



Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. Belize will pay more for gas; Enel secured a five-year renewables PPA in Panamá; and Nicaragua reforms its power generation law.


Greater Antilles / Northern Islands. Cuba shines brighter with ADFD’s help; and Jamaica’s economy contracted by 18% between April and June.


Lesser Antilles / Southern Islands. BPTT and the government agreed on extensions; and COVID-19 hit Trinidad & Tobago’s local economy “hard.”


South America’s Caribbean Coast. ExxonMobil hit black gold yet again in Guyana; Shell got Kosmos’ interest in Suriname; and Promigas will make its Cartagena plant bigger.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in the Dominican Republic’s decision on power investments (Renewables Now – English); the Dominican Republic’s renewables forecast (PV Magazine – Spanish); and Central America’s natural gas future (El Periódico – Spanish).



Government & NGO


The BCIE considers investment projects in El Salvador. Only for 2020, BCIE okayed loans for US$363m (El Mundo – Spanish). The regional bank is showing interest in providing more funds to boost the economic reactivation in the Central American country.


COVID-19 hit Trinidad & Tobago’s local economy “hard.” Trinidad & Tobago’s Prime Minister says that COVID-19 hit the country “hard,” shrinking the economy by 10% (Jamaica Observer – English). On top of that, the drop in demand has hit the Trinidad & Tobago fuel sector.


Jamaica’s economy contracted by 18% between April and June. The Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) reported that the economy fell 18% between April and June, compared to the same period in the previous year (JIS – English).


Cuba plans the first peso devaluation since 1959. Cuba will devaluate the peso’s one-to-one exchange rate with the US dollar for the first time since the 1959 revolution (Reuters – English). Authorities will also unify Cuba’s two domestic currencies, but the government will respect the peso’s current rate with the public for a time.



Oil & Gas Upstream


ExxonMobil hit black gold yet again in Guyana. ExxonMobil made the 18th discovery on Stabroek block, at the Redtail-1 well (OGJ – English). Redtail-1 encountered 232 ft (70 m) of high-quality oil-bearing sandstone reservoir. The well was drilled in 6,164 ft (1,878 m) of water.


BPTT and the government agreed on extensions. BPTT announced the successful completion of negotiations with Trinidad & Tobago on extensions to its exploration and production licenses (Energy Now – English). The agreement was for a 10-year extension on 92 of the licenses in the Columbus Basin.


Shell got Kosmos’ interest in Suriname. Kosmos Energy reached an agreement with B. V. Dordtsche Petroleum Maatschappij, a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell, to reduce its interest in a portfolio of frontier exploration assets for approximately US$100m, plus future contingent payments of up to US$100m (Energy Now – English).


Colombia’s oil is recovering. Baker Hughes reported that there were seven active rigs in the Caribbean nation, the third month where the volume of operational rigs increased (Oil Price – English). The amount is still less than a third of what it was for the same month in 2019.



Liquid Fuels Mid-Downstream


PDVSA fights to restart gasoline production. According to a technical report, the Paraguana Refining Center was operating at 145,000 barrels per day, or 15.2% of capacity, on September 6, while Amuay refinery is operating at 90,000 barrels per day, or 14% of capacity (Platts – English).


Gas smuggling in Colombia is dead. The economic crisis in Venezuela and the collapse of Venezuela’s oil industry stopped gas smuggling into Colombia (WBUR – English). Venezuelans now pay as much as $10 a gallon on the black market, and there’s no more cheap fuel left to resell in Colombia.


Iranian tankers are late in Venezuela. While Venezuelans face long gas station lines due to rationing by President Maduro’s government, three tankers that left Iran in August are going around the Horn of Africa, where it is easier to keep satellite tracking systems off to avoid US authorities (GCaptain – English).


RdK is suing PDVSA. Refineria di Korsou, the owner of Curacao’s La Isla refinery, is suing Venezuela’s state-run oil company for US$51m (Venezuela Analysis – English). RdK claims PDVSA missed service payments on the leased-out facility between February 2018 and December 2019.


Belize will pay more for gas. The Finance Ministry announced that the pump price for regular gasoline will increase from BZ$8.62 to BZ$8.89 per gallon (Breaking Belize News – English). The prices for premium gasoline, kerosene, and diesel will remain unchanged.



Natural Gas Mid-Downstream & LNG


Scania has Latin America in sight. The Swedish truck manufacturer plans to expand into Latin America. Scania has also been working with Colombia’s public transportation sector, supplying 1,130 gas-powered buses to the Transmilenio, Metroplús, and Transcaribe systems (BN Americas – English).


Colombia’s natural gas demand is up. Natural gas demand in Colombia was 832 GBtu per day, above the 811GBtu per day registered in the previous week (Valora Analitik – Spanish). Only residential and commercial sectors didn’t change.


Promigas will make its Cartagena plant bigger. In the next 10 years, the natural gas transportation and distribution company expects to go into the renewable energy business, expand the Cartagena regasification plant, and broaden its presence in Latin America (Diario La Libertad – Spanish).



Electric Power & Renewables


Enel secured a five-year renewables PPA in Panamá. Enel Green Power secured a contract to supply a total of 31 million kWh of clean energy in Panamá over five years (Renewables Now – English). Enel signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with state lender National Bank of Panamá.


Cuba shines brighter with ADFD’s help. Cuba expanded a 10MW solar photovoltaic plant to 15MW of total capacity with help from the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) (Renewables Now – English). ADFD noted that the benefits from this project encouraged it to support a second 14.3MW solar project.


Guatemala maintains its power subsidy. The National Institute of Electricity (INDE) approved continuing the social tariff in September for users who consume up to 125kWh per month (DCA – Spanish). From May through August, help was extended to homes that demanded 300kWh per month.


Nicaragua reforms its power generation law. The National Assembly modified the law for renewable energy generation, allowing clean energy generators to negotiate current prices in exchange for five more years of tax relief (Central America Data – Spanish). The reform is being pushed urgently by President Daniel Ortega.


Panamá will launch a renewable energy auction. Panamá will launch a short-term auction for renewable energy, and a resolution is expected by January 1, 2021 (PV Magazine – Spanish). The goal would be to guarantee power supply.



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 7th Geothermal Congress for Latin America & the Caribbean (GEOLAC) will be held September 15-17.


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



Lateral Thinking


Scientists warn we are killing wildlife. Scientists warn that wildlife populations have fallen by more than two-thirds in less than 50 years. The drop of 94% for Latin America and the Caribbean is the largest anywhere in the world (BBC – English).



Quote of the Week


“A country where people have lost their soul is no longer worth visiting.”


-James Fitz-Allen (1931), former Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.



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