By Amy Montes / Diálogo November 19, 2019 A Guatemalan Army patrol drove to El Estor, Izabal department, in the first week of September in pursuit of an aircraft loaded with drugs. Upon arriving at the landing site with information provided by the defense radar, the service members were intercepted by drug traffickers who took them to a school, killed three units, and injured three others.“These murders highlight the risk to freedom, justice, security, and development. They put institutional order, governability, and state security at risk,” said Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales as he issued a stage of siege to restore order in 22 municipalities in the departments of Izabal, Petén, Zacapa, El Progreso, Baja Verapaz, and Alta Verapaz.Guatemalan Minister of National Defense Luis Miguel Ralda Moreno told the press the measure would last 30 days. According to the country’s Law of Public Order, in the event the stability of social and government institutions are in danger, the president can decree a state of siege and assume military authority through the Defense Ministry with powers to restrict freedom of action, movement, demonstration, and the carrying of weapons. The President can also detain one or more residents without the need for a court order.From transit to producerAuthorities disable one of 16 clandestine airstrips found during the state of siege in September. (Photo: Guatemalan Ministry of National Defense)A month after the measure was implemented, in addition to restoring the law and apprehending common criminals, operations revealed that Guatemala was no longer a transit point for drugs, but that it had become a drug-producing country.During the interventions, authorities seized drug labs with almost one ton of cocaine worth $14 million ready to be sold. They also destroyed 23 crops with about 1.5 million coca plants and disabled 16 clandestine airstrips, the Ministry told the press.“One of the causes of this change [from transit to producing country] is the reduced costs and risks in the transit of illegal substances from South America to Guatemala, and from here to Mexico and the United Sates,” said Ralda. This motivated organized crime to use communities with little government presence to install a model of illicit cultivation and infrastructure to produce cocaine on their land, the minister said.Prolonged stage of siegeThe results of September led the Guatemalan government, through Congress, to ratify on October 10, the state of siege for another 30 days in the 22 controlled municipalities.Ralda emphasized that this new term would allow them to detect more drug labs and plantations, and generate trust among residents to encourage them to report suspicious activities. “These measures allow security forces with room to act within the legal framework, but above all to establish respect for human rights,” he concluded.
In the case of gas, the drops were even sharper, ranging from 36 per cent, on the Henry Hub, to 56 per cent on the Algonquín. In the first quarter of 2020, Repsol recorded an adjusted net income of €447 million, which represents a decrease of 27.7 per cent compared to the €618 million registered in the same period the previous year. The Upstream business posted an income of €90 million, compared to €323 million between January and March 2019. Average production increased by 1.4 per cent, to 710,300 barrels of oil equivalent per day. With a negative impact of €790 million ($864.4Mn), the resulting net loss in the first quarter of 2020 was €487 million ($532.9Mn) compared to a profit of €608 million ($665.3Mn) in 1Q 2019. This volatility and decline in international commodities prices has reduced the valuation of the company’s inventories to an extraordinary degree. Repsol also said that, despite the adverse context, the commitment to a shareholder remuneration of 1 euro per share in 2020 will be maintained. Reducing expenses Upstream performance The plan includes initiatives that will represent additional reductions of more than 350 million euros in operating expenses and over 1 billion in investments. Spanish oil and gas company Repsol posted a significant quarterly loss after being hit by volatility and decline in oil and gas prices, but it delivered an increased output during the period. It will also include optimizations of working capital of nearly 800 million with respect to what was initially budgeted. To address the current circumstances, Repsol adopted a Resilience Plan for 2020. This result was achieved in a context of exceptional complexity, marked by a sharp drop in oil and gas prices, a drastic decrease in demand triggered by Covid-19. The average price of Brent and WTI crude oils dropped by 21 per cent and 17 per cent, respectively, compared to the first three months of 2019. At the end of the quarter, Brent traded at under $20 per barrel. The results of this area have been hampered primarily by the extraordinary drop in international commodities reference prices.