The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean

September 11, 2017 edition— Yabucoa oil terminal closed; fuel prices up; and Dominica got funding for a geothermal plant.




Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. Guatemala and El Salvador suffered an increase in fuel prices and Central America should develop its geothermal energy potential.


Greater Antilles. Buckeye Partners shut Puerto Rico’s Yabucoa oil terminal; the Dominican Republic’s fuel prices are up, but natural gas remained steady; and parts of Puerto Rico will be dark for months.


Lesser Antilles. Hurricane Irma hit Barbuda and St Martin hard; Dominica secured funding for its geothermal plant; and Trinidad & Tobago is reshaping Petrotrin.


Northern South America. GeoPark made a discovery at Colombia’s Curucucu field and the United Nations accused Venezuela’s government of human rights violations.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in the third LNG power plant in Jamaica (English); Jamaica’s growth for the first quarter (English); and AES Dominicana’s energy storage system (English).



Political Economy


Fitch confirmed the Panama Canal’s A rating. The international rating agency sustained the Panama Canal’s rating for the second consecutive year (Spanish). The deputy executive president of Panama Canal Finances, Francisco Míguez, said the rating confirms its financial strength and competitiveness.


The UN accused Venezuela of human rights violations. According to a report from the United Nations, extensive human rights violations were committed in anti-Government protests in Venezuela (English). Excessive force and arbitrary detention was used systematically against protestors. President Nicolas Maduro is expected to address the UN Human Rights Council on September 11 (English).


Hurricane Irma devastated Barbuda and St Martin. Twenty people have been reported dead in Hurricane Irma’s pass through the Caribbean (English). Winds near 185 miles per hour devastated Barbuda, damaging 95% of the buildings and leaving 60% of the inhabitants homeless, and injured 23 people in the French Caribbean island territories (English).


Jamaica is growing slowly but steady. The Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) reported a 0.3% growth in the April to June 2017 quarter (English). The services industry experienced a 1.2% increase while the goods producing industry contracted 2.5%.



Oil & Gas Upstream


Buckeye Partners shut Puerto Rico’s Yabucoa oil terminal. Buckeye Partners shut the Yabucoa oil terminal in Puerto Rico. The company is preparing for Hurricane Irma in two other marine terminals in Florida and the Bahamas (English).


Trinidad & Tobago will give Petrotrin a makeover. Trinidad and Tobago announced changes in Petrotrin’s board of directors to make the company sustainable and profitable (English). The state-owned company has an estimated US$850m of debt due in 2019.


GeoPark hit black gold at Colombia’s Curucucu field. GeoPark made a discovery at the new Curucucu oil field in Colombia’s Llanos 34 Block (English). In a production test, the field offered a production rate of about 1,700 barrels of oil per day, of 15.8 degrees API and 70 pounds per square inch pressure.



Oil & Gas Downstream


Guatemala’s Energy Ministry resented the increase in fuel prices. The Energy and Mines Ministry (MEM) considered the rise in imported fuel prices “disproportionate” (Spanish). The importing companies argue the prices reflect the international market after Hurricane Harvey, but the argument was rejected by the inter-institutional technical board.


The Dominican Republic suffered a rise in fuel prices… The Industry and Commerce Ministry announced that premium and regular gasoline prices will climb by RD$5, reaching RD$214.8 and RD$200.7 per gallon, respectively (English) (Spanish). Natural gas prices remain at RD$28.97 per cubic meter.


…and El Salvador will also feel Harvey’s consequences. Fuel prices in El Salvador will suffer an increase due to Hurricane Harvey’s  damages in the US (Spanish). The increase will be felt in El Salvador in fifteen days, while in the US prices have already risen  10%.


Natural gas vehicles in the DR hit a speed bump. Vehicular natural gas experienced a huge success but growth has slowed due to access difficulties (Spanish). Natural gas maintains a wide market, a competitive cost, and fuels 30% of the Dominican Republic’s electricity supply.



Renewables & Electricity


Central America is rich in geothermal energy. The International Agency of Renewable Energies (IRENA) assured geothermal energy is one of the cheapest sources of energy and Central America has the potential for geothermal energy equivalent to up to 20 times the current installed capacity (Spanish). The problem is the high costs of exploration and evaluation.


The DR’s power consumption took it easy in the first semester. Power consumption increased by 0.2% in the first semester of 2017, a clear drop compared to the 5.6% increase in the same period in 2016 (Spanish). The residential and industrial sectors reduced their consumption by 0.7% and 2.4%, respectively.


Hurricane Irma may leave Puerto Rico in the dark for months. Government Ricardo Rosselló informed reporters 20% of 1.5 million users lost power before Hurricane Irma affected the island.  The island’s utility company may not be able to restore power to certain areas for months (English).


Dominica got funding for its dreamed geothermal plant. Funds for the construction of a geothermal plant has been secured by development partners (EC$30m from Britain, EC$5.4m from New Zealand and EC$5.4 from SIDS DOCK) and the Dominica government’s contribution of US$40.5m (English). The project will reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuels.



Lateral Thinking


The Caribbean became a huge lab to understand mammals’ extinction. A PhD student at Stanford University is employing Caribbean islands as a quasi-experiment to understand the extinction of mammals (English). The study will examine data on fossil mammal species and ancient human populations living in the Caribbean for 7,000 years.



Quote of the Week


“The suffering of the Bahamian people is nearly ended. A new day is coming. It is almost here.”



-Perry Christie (1943), Bahamian politician, Prime Minister of the Bahamas from 2002 to 2007 and from 2012 to 2017.




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