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Analysis

Exploration and production in the Americas

2017 oil and gas market report

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 countries of Latin America, from Mexico in the north to Argentina in the south, represent 20 percent of the world's oil reserves and 4 percent of the world’s natural gas reserves as of 2016 (figure 1). This region includes four of the top 20 global oil producers and two member countries of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Companies (OPEC). And beyond conventional hydrocarbon resources, the region contains three of the top 10 resource holders for unconventional (shale) oil (Argentina, Venezuela, and Mexico), and three of the top 10 resource holders for shale gas (Argentina, Mexico, and Brazil), according to the 2013 US Energy Information Administration (EIA) assessment of Technically Recoverable Shale Oil and Shale Gas Resources.

Geographically, the region seems well placed to trade oil and natural gas to North America, across the Atlantic Basin, and across the Pacific to growing markets in Asia. And yet, with some notable exceptions, the region has not seen the sustained, large-scale hydrocarbon development over decades that we have seen in the United States and Canada, the Middle East, and the countries of the former Soviet Union, for example.

Recent developments across the region may have the potential to raise its 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 Latin American oil and gas production and reserves have grown in aggregate, some countries face both declining production and shrinking reserves

Source: BP statistical review of world energy 2017

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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