The Weekly Brief: Greater Caribbean


September 28, 2020 edition–El Salvador’s FSRU; Curacao’s oil tanks; and Suriname’s 3D seismic survey.



Last Week in a Minute or Less


Central America. Central America imported less power; Keppel Shipyard will convert El Salvador’s LNG carrier to an FSRU; and Enel will reorganize its Central and South American renewables.


Greater Antilles / Northern Islands. Jamaica said goodbye to oil hedging; Cuba wants to partner with EAEU; and turning to gas would save Dominicans US$3bn.


Lesser Antilles / Southern Islands. Curacao will receive oil in October; and Trinidad & Tobago still believes in oil’s future.


South America’s Caribbean Coast. Petronas started a 3D seismic survey in Suriname; Colombia will wait decades for Venezuela’s natural gas; and Iran and Venezuela continue defying US sanctions with oil trade.


Déjà vu all over again. Last week’s readers were particularly interested in the San Juan plant’s conversion (EDF – English); Trinidad & Tobago’s deepest well (Energy Now – English); and Colombia’s fight against illegal siphoning (Reuters – English).



Government & NGO


Colombia’s economy contracted 9.55% in July. The Caribbean nation’s economy fell 9.55% in July, compared to the same month in 2019 (El Economista – Spanish). The number shows improvement from the contractions in April (20.2%), May (16.2%), and June (11%).


Haiti is closer to a constitutional referendum. President Jovenel Moise appointed nine members to a provisional electoral council in charge of preparing a constitutional referendum and organizing local, municipal, legislative, and presidential elections (Reuters – English). Moise previously said the powers of the president needed to be strengthened.


Cuba wants to partner with EAEU. The Caribbean nation wants to cooperate with the countries that belong to the EuroAsian Economic Union (EAEU) (Diario Libre – Spanish). Cuba became a non-voting member after signing a MOU with the Union in 2018.


Jamaica said goodbye to oil hedging. Jamaica decided not to make oil hedging arrangements, considering the economic contraction and the fight against COVID-19 (Jamaica Gleaner – English). Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the country expected the oil import bill to be US$1.4bn.



Oil & Gas Upstream


Petronas started a 3D seismic survey in Suriname. Shearwater GeoServices Holding announced the award of a streamer 3D seismic survey for Block 52. The project will last four months and is scheduled to start in the fourth quarter of 2020 (Energy Now – English).


Ecopetrol will offer nine oil and gas assets in auction. The state-owned company will divest its stakes in nine oil- and gas-producing assets through an electronic auction in the fourth quarter of this year (Reuters – English). This auction will allow companies to access assets to develop production and reserves.


Trinidad & Tobago still believes in oil’s future. The Energy Minister has been saying for years that oil remains an important and valuable commodity for the Caribbean nation (Energy Now – English). As 32% of Trinidad & Tobago’s oil production comes from on-land production, the sector provides further opportunities for small and medium-sized jobs in rural communities.


The Bahamas’ oil exploration got some opposition. An environmental activists’ petition received 10,562 signatures opposing oil drilling in The Bahamas’ waters (Tribune 242 – English). According to the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation, the environmental and economic risks associated with the Bahamas Petroleum Company’s plans offset the potential rewards.



Liquid Fuels Mid-Downstream


The Dominican Republic will maintain its fuel price formula. The Industry, Commerce, and Small Business Minister said the current formula to estimate fuel prices will continue without changes (Acento – Spanish). The minister promised transparency and equity in the fuel business (Acento – Spanish).


Suriname is concerned with fuel prices. After the devaluation of the Surinamese dollar by nearly 90% against the US dollar, the price of fuel saw a dramatic increase (Caribbean National Weekly – English). Fuel prices had been subsidized by successive governments over the years, but the subsidy was abolished by the new government.


Curacao will receive oil in October. SPS Drilling E&P plans to bring oil products in the newly leased Curacao storage tanks in mid-October (Argus Media – English). The company intends to recover 70% to 80% of the terminal’s installed capacity by the first quarter of next year.


Iran and Venezuela continue defying US sanctions with oil trade. After Iran delivered condensate to the Caribbean nation at the port of José, the same tanker is loading Venezuelan crude oil, defying US sanctions (Oil price – Spanish). Lack of diluents, lack of maintenance, lack of money, and lack of spare parts have forced Venezuela’s refineries to operate at very low processing rates.



Natural Gas Mid-Downstream & LNG


Turning to gas would save Dominicans US$3bn. The San Petro de Macorís Electricity Company (CESPM) presented its progress converting its three power plants to natural gas. CESPM said the country will save US$3bn in the next 10 years (Dominican Today – English).


Colombia will wait decades for Venezuela’s natural gas. National governments do not know when Colombia will start receiving the 500 million cubic feet per day that was supposed to arrive from Venezuela, more than 50% of the daily demand of the Caribbean nation (Portafolio – Spanish).


Keppel Shipyard will convert El Salvador’s LNG carrier to an FSRU. Keppel Shipyard was awarded a contract to convert the LNG carrier BW Gallina to a floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) that will be deployed to the Port of Acajutla, El Salvador (Rivera – English).


The Colombian-Naturgy fight is expected to end by year-end. The head of the National Agency of Legal Defense expects Electrocaribe’s lawsuit will be over by the end of 2020 or the beginning of 2021 (El Heraldo – Spanish). Electrocaribe sued Colombia for US$1bn, while Colombia countered the lawsuit for US$500m.



Electric Power & Renewables


Puerto Rico’s power grid will get a makeover. The US government announced it would provide almost US$13bn to help rebuild Puerto Rico’s power grid after the destruction from Hurricane María three years ago (PV Magazine – Spanish). The funds would also help the educational system recover.


Vestas will build Colombia’s second wind farm. Vestas received a 20MW order for the Guajira I project, the second wind farm in the Caribbean nation. Vestas plans to deliver the machines by the second quarter of 2021 (Renewables Now – English).


Central America imported less power equipment. In the first three months of the year, Central American companies purchased from abroad US$29m in motors and power generators, 39% less than the amount purchased in the same period in 2019 (Central America Data – Spanish). Guatemala was the main importer with US$9m in purchases.


Colombia is all about renewables self-supply. Greenyellow will install a self-supply system of 1,050 solar panels of 445 Wp (PV Magazine – Spanish). Two CES University buildings, located in Medellín and Sabaneta, will power up with photovoltaic systems (PV Magazine – Spanish).


DOMLEC made a profit for the first time since the hurricane. The Dominica Electricity Company (DOMLEC) reported a profit of more than US$1m, recovering from the damage caused by Hurricane Maria in 2017 (Jamaica Observer – English). In 2018, the company recorded an EC$2.5m loss.


Enel will reorganize its Central and South American renewables. Enel started the process for the approval of a merger for a reorganization of the Enel Group’s shareholdings, integrating non-conventional renewable energy businesses in Central and South America (except Chile) (Enel – 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 12th Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum is scheduled for October 28-30.



Lateral Thinking


Dominica was shaken by a volcano. An explosion of steam and gas in Dominica shook its residents. The Dominica Office of Disaster Management and the Seismic Research team expected a landslide, followed by subsequent geological adjustments (Reuters – English).



Quote of the Week


“Papiamentu is our soul. The language is the only thing that distinguishes us from other nations.”


– Frank Martinus Arion (1936-2015), Curaçaoan poet, novelist, and language advocate.



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