The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


September 10, 2018 edition–ExxonMobil’s ninth discovery; Colombia’s rounds; and Panama’s transmission line.




Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. The IDB will back Honduras’ transmission system; the UN discussed Nicaragua’s crisis; and five companies will compete to build a transmission line in Panama.


Greater Antilles. A lightning strike shut down AES Dominicana; FEMA handed Prepa US$55m to pay Florida Power & Light; and the Dominican Republic grew…but so did its public debt.


Lesser Antilles. The Bahamas may add a biomass power plant; T&T may turn to Guyana to save Petrotrin’s refinery; and OWTU may go on strike over the refinery’s closing.


South America’s Caribbean Coast. ExxonMobil made a ninth discovery in Guyana; six companies will compete over Colombia’s exploration areas; and Colombia’s oil sector keeps growing.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in the Bahamas’ biomass plant proposal (English); and Saipem’s new contracts in Guyana (English).



Political Economy


The IMF evaluated Hurricane Maria’s damage to Dominica’s economy… The International Monetary Fund forecasted a 14% decline in Dominica’s output and 5 years to recover from the damage caused by Hurricane Maria, with an estimated cost of US$1.3bn (English). The IMF recommended cost-effective fiscal policies and reforms to recover while controlling the expansion of public debt.


…and Canada will lend Dominica a hand. Canada will provide funds for development projects in Dominica, including CAD$9.25m from Ottawa to the Caribbean Development Bank for Dominica’s disaster recovery resilience project. The goal will be to reconstruct and restore five primary schools (English).


The UN discussed Nicaragua’s crisis. The UN temporary president and US ambassador Nikki Haley called Daniel Ortega a dictator while discussing Nicaragua’s crisis in the United Nations Security Council (Spanish) (English). Nine out of 15 countries that comprise the council asked for the Nicaraguan government to stop political repression.


The Dominican Republic’s economy grew…along with its public debt. The Dominican Republic’s central bank governor said the economy showed an average growth of 6.7% between January and July (Spanish). In the first half of the year, public debt reached one of the highest levels in 20 years, at 49.3% of the GDP (Spanish).



Oil & Gas Upstream


ExxonMobil found black gold for the ninth time in Guyana. ExxonMobil encountered 197 feet of high-quality, oil-bearing sandstone after the drilling of the Hammerhead-1 well offshore Guyana (English). The well was drilled to 18,057 feet in 3,373 feet of water by the Stena Carron drillship.


T&T hopes Guyana oil will save the Petrotrin refinery. Trinidad and Tobago’s opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar asked the government to consider a partnership with Guyana to refine its oil to avoid the closure of the Petrotrin refinery (English). The Petrotrin facility could be used in the initial years of oil production, scheduled to start by 2020.


Six will compete for Colombia’s exploration areas. Six foreign companies made offers to explore for oil in 21 areas in Colombia under a system focused on boosting investment and finding new deposits (English). Under the new system, companies can bid to explore in areas not yet offered.


Ecopetrol keeps growing. Thanks to increasing oil prices and efficiencies, Colombia’s national hydrocarbons company grew in the first half of 2018. In the second quarter, Ecopetrol’s net profit rose by 170% year-on-year and sales increased by 29% (English), at 721,000 barrels per day, the highest in seven quarters.



Oil & Gas Downstream


OWTU may go on strike over the refinery’s closing. Trinidad and Tobago’s Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) threatened a general strike if plans to close the country’s only refinery continue (English). The Trinidad and Tobago government says it will offer the first option to the OWTU to acquire the refining assets of Petrotrin (English).


Petrotrin is looking into the Fyzabad oil leak. An oil leak at Sewlal Trace, Fyzabad, was caused by five open wellhead valves on oil wells (English). The Environmental Management Authority (EMA) and the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries have been informed.


Jamaica’s PNP and oil sector stakeholders discussed fuel prices. The People’s National Party (PNP) Shadow Mining and Energy Minister met with stakeholders in the petroleum sector to discuss strategies to reduce the effect of increasing fuel prices on businesses and families (English).


Barbados may be affected by the Petrotrin oil refinery closing. Trinidad imports 1% of its crude oil from Barbados, which is refined under a Processing Agreement with Petrotrin. In 2014, Barbados shipped 266,116 barrels to the Petrotrin refinery in Trinidad (English).



Renewables & Electricity


The Bahamas, far from its renewable energy target, may add a biomass power plant. The Bahamas will be challenged to reach the National Energy Policy’s goals, with 9MW of renewable capacity required every year to hit the target (English). A biomass power generation plant proposal is under consideration to create 250 jobs and generate 24MW (English).


Five will compete to build a transmission line in Panama. Five companies passed the pre-qualification process for the design, construction, and administration of the fourth transmission line. The 317-km-long line will require an investment of US$500m and will have a capacity of 1280MVA/1500MW (Spanish).


The IDB will back Honduras’ transmission system. The International Development Bank will lend US$150m to strengthen Honduras’ National Transmission System (English). The goal is to improve service quality by reducing power outages.


FEMA handed Prepa US$55m to pay Florida Power & Light. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) awarded US$55m to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) to cover expenses paid by Florida Power & Light to repair the power systems damaged in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria (English).


A lightning strike shut down the biggest Dominican Republic power plant. The lightning hit the AES Dominicana power plant at Andrés, Boca Chica. The natural gas-powered steam turbine unit that supplies 319MW had to be taken offline (English).



Old School Social


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


The Central American Energy Transition Roundtable is scheduled for September 20 at the Barceló San José Hotel, in Costa Rica.


The CARILEC Renewable Energy Community & Smart Grid Conference will be held September 23-27 at the Hilton Miami Downtown.



Lateral Thinking


The island of Klein Curaçao will be explored. A team of scientists and explorers will travel to the uninhabited island of Klein Curaçao to document the biodiversity of shallow and deep-reef ecosystems (English). The focus will be deep mesophotic coral reefs.



Quote of the Week


“Well, I learned that kids are the building blocks of the human race. If they’re wrong, the next generation will be wrong too.”



-Phyllis Byam Shand Allfrey (1908-1986), West Indian writer, newspaper editor, and Dominica politician. The quote is from the book The Orchid House.



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