April 10, 2015

Obama To Address Caribbean’s ‘Economic Achilles’ Heel – Energy

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April 9, 2015 | National Public Radio | Scott Horsley

This week, President Obama is making several stops in the Caribbean – Jamaica on Thursday and Panama on Friday – for diplomatic meetings. A main topic of conversation? Energy.

As NPR’s Scott Horsley reports, a renewed relationship with Cuba and the natural gas boom give the U.S. new footing in a region where rival Venezuela has traditionally dominated:

For years, Venezuela has offered an energy lifeline to the Caribbean, selling oil to countries there and in Central America on very favorable terms…The picture today is very different. Chavez is dead. The price of oil has fallen sharply in the past year. And with Venezuela’s economy in deep trouble, the flow of cheap oil to the Caribbean is in danger of running dry.

U.S. companies can’t yet export crude oil, but they can export refined products, and discussions this week could lay the groundwork for liquid natural gas exports to the Caribbean.

For more context, David Ferris and Nathanial Gronewold of EnergyWire have an in-depth look at the history of energy in Cuba, a country that, for decades, has been generating electricity from Venezuelan crude oil.