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Analysis

Exploration and production in the Americas

Snapshot of oil and gas trends, activities, and markets

Despite its substantial hydrocarbon resources, Latin America has fallen far short of its production and export growth potential. At the other end of the continent, Canada continues to develop its oil and gas upstream sector. Our new report series profiles the major non-US oil and gas producing countries of the Americas, historical highlights of the industry in each country, and the new opportunities within their reach.

Realizing oil and gas potential across the Americas

The Americas, ranging from northern Nunuvut, Canada to the southernmost tip of Argentina in Tierra del Fuego, represent 32 percent of the world’s oil reserves and 10 percent of its natural gas reserves (figure 1). This region includes six of the top 20 global oil producers and two member countries of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Companies (OPEC). Also, beyond conventional hydrocarbon resources, the region contains six of the top 10 resource holders for unconventional (shale) oil and five of the top 10 resource holders for shale gas, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) assessment of Technically Recoverable Shale Oil and Shale Gas Resources.1 Therefore, there is not only significant oil and gas production currently but also running room for the future.

Moreover, the Americas seem well placed geographically to trade oil and natural gas across the Atlantic and Pacific basins, tapping into both the European markets and the rapidly growing Asian ones. And yet, with some notable exceptions, the development of large-scale hydrocarbon production has had mixed results. This appears to be due, in part, to geopolitical instability, economic challenges, and limited energy infrastructure.

Recent developments across the region may raise the region’s profile as a world-class geography for hydrocarbon development and production in the coming years and provide significant new investment opportunities for exploration and production (E&P) companies. These developments include 1) the recognition and new subsurface potential (e.g., unconventional resources in Argentina, deepwater resources in Brazil) and 2) the emergence of more attractive access and fiscal regimes to encourage new investment (e.g., energy reforms in Mexico, new fiscal terms in Argentina, moves toward non-Petrobras operatorship in Brazil, etc.).

With these and other developments taking shape, it seems an opportune time to take stock of the region as a whole, explore the opportunities and challenges of ramping up E&P activity, and describe the potential upside if successful development pathways are followed.

Figure 1. While oil and gas production and reserves have grown in aggregate across the Americas, some countries face declining production and shrinking reserves

Source: BP statistical review of world energy 2018

Oil and gas exploration and production market reports: The Americas

In this series, Americas E&P Snapshots, Deloitte profiles the region’s major countries, their hydrocarbon endowments, the historical context of the industry in each country, and the new opportunities that seem to be taking shape. Each country report concludes with considerations for the future and an assessment of the country’s attractiveness for new investment in the E&P sector. The series includes profiles of the following countries:

Click the boxes in the grid below to explore and compare counties. Use the filters to see side-by-side analysis for each country.

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Endnotes

1US Energy Information Administration, “World shale resource assessments,” September 24, 2015, accessed August 7, 2018.

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