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Latin American oil and gas

Oilfield Technology,


A formal resolution to the Repsol-YPF dispute has resulted in the removal of barriers to international companies looking to become part of the Argentinean oil and gas sector. However, BMI’s oil and gas production forecasts are remaining cautious due to the legacy of a poor business environment and the operational risks that are part of doing business in Argentina.

At the moment BMI expect to see only moderate increases in liquids output, and expect to see the country pumping an average of 745 000 bpd by 2018 before upping to 816 000 bpd by 2023. BMI has also mentioned that the country does have vast shale potential but is yet to factor it in to any predictions.


The oil and gas sector in the country is expected to benefit from steady pipeline and upstream investment. BMI also forecast growth in the production of natural gas and exports but these will moderate from 2018. There are likely also to be small gains in liquids output.

When it comes to refining capacity, BMI expects the startup of an additional 12 500 bpd unit at the Gualberto Villarroel refinery, Cochabamba next year. The unit is part of a major downstream investment programme in the country which is attempting to increase gasoline and diesel output and reduce Bolivia’s fuel import bill.


Chile has very low levels of hydrocarbon supplies along with high demand and a high dependence on imported energy feedstock. However, the country is aware of this situation and the fact that it is very unlikely to improve any time soon. This has prompted the government to look towards a new national energy strategy to spur greater development of the sector where possible.


BMI has warned that Colombia will experience downward pressure on production over the long term despite there being strong growth in the country over the last 10 years. Smaller finds and recent pipeline attacks have begun to show signs of decreasing investor interest in Colombia as well as other challenges to the country’s hydrocarbon productivity levels.

When it comes to oil production figures stood at 1 million bpd in 2013, this is expected to increase only marginally to 1.1 million bpd by 2018 due to the above. Reserves are expected to increase to 2.9 billion bbls by 2018 with further modest growth to 3 billion bbls by 2023. Gas production has nearly doubled over the last 10 years and is estimated to increase from 2014 levels of 12.8 billion m3 to 14.7 billion m3 in 2018 and 17.9 billion m3 in 2023.

When it comes to the downstream sector, rising oil demand is increasing investment. Ecopetrol is currently upgrading its Cartagena refinery and the expansion is costing US$2.84 billion. Once complete the refinery’s new processing capacity will stand at 165 000 bpd. Ecopetrol is also improving the Barrancabermeja refinery and this will increase output of gasoline and middle distillates.


By 2017, BMI has said, that Ecuador’s downstream sector could move from being a net importer of refined products to a significant exporter. Overall however BMI has a bearish outlook for the country with doubts over the country’s largest untapped oilfield.

Oil production is expected to grow to 2018 but this will be offset by natural depreciation rates across mature fields. Also, a poor environment above group will deter foreign investment. As Ecuador realises this possibility, the country is attempting to improve its image and options by making links with China, which is the country’s largest foreign investor in the petroleum sector.

Trinidad and Tobago

BMI anticipates growth in natural gas output to moderate by the end of the decade and expect only incremental gains in liquids production in T&T. The country is however anticipated to have a sizeable amount of untapped reserves.

The refining sector was reported to have declined by approximately one third this year and there is now potential downside risk to refined fuels production. In the LNG sector the island has successfully boosted exports to regional customers and markets in Asia.


A cautious outlook is being maintained by BMI when it comes to Venezuela’s oil and gas sector. The company expect the country to under perform due to large operational challenges and political interference along with chronic underinvestment, an unattractive operating environment and a precarious financial situation facing PDVSA. Production of gas is expected to increase by 2.4%/y but will continue to fall short of domestic demand.

Edited from report briefs by Claira Lloyd

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