Investment in exploration and production in Latin America reactivates

  • Latin America is shown as a potential destination for investment in hydrocarbon exploration and production, after some years in a scenario of falling international oil prices. Regional opportunities increase in a context where energy demand will continue to rise and the leadership of hydrocarbons in the global energy mix will remain in force.

    Under the motto "New Energetic Reality, Challenges and Opportunities,” ARPEL Oil and Gas Conference 2017 began. This event organized every two years by the Regional Association of Oil, Gas and Biofuels in Latin America and the Caribbean, held in Punta del Este, Uruguay, gathers the most important leaders of the regional energy sector.

    Speaking on new government strategies to attract investment, the Vice President of Global Fiscal Research at Wood Mackenzie, Graham Kellas, said, “Upstream investors are coming out of hibernation.” In this regard, the speaker stated, "Investors are looking for new opportunities to place their capitals, but competition to attract them will be intense.”

    The first day of the Conference helped to examine state plans to attract investment to the region during the Forum of Hydrocarbons Agencies that brought together representatives from ten national agencies, who presented the potential in oil and gas on a country-by-country basis.

    "Colombia offers numerous opportunities," the President of the National Hydrocarbons Agency (ANH), Orlando Velandia, stated. As an example, it is expected that more than 50 exploratory wells will be drilled this year. The General Manager of ANCAP, Ignacio Horvath, stated, "the activity of this past decade represents a quantitative and qualitative leap in the Uruguayan hydrocarbons platform," and he anticipated that Round III to call for bids for deep water explorations will be launched in September.

    Each speaker at the forum confirmed that the region offers an important margin of investment opportunities, which goes hand in hand with the interest to increase hydrocarbon reserves, giving priority to the care for the environment and dealing with projects on a competitive basis through the use of state of the art technology.

    "In Bolivia there is a very significant exploration potential. Fifty percent of the national territory is considered of hydrocarbon interest," the Operations Manager of YPFB, Luis Carlos Sánchez, stated, while the President of Perupetro, Rafael Zoeger, said his country has a potential of 10,000 million barrels of oil equivalent, and that the goal is to meet domestic demand and then become an exporter of crude oil. Meanwhile, States are making efforts to create the conditions to enable investment to remain and expand in a period when international prices are stable, but at a value lower than a few years ago, in the range of USD 50 and USD 60 per barrel.

    Rounds of bidding, new models of contracts, more flexible tax systems, and adjustments to the regulatory frameworks are some of the mechanisms that countries face to provide greater legal security, attractive investment models and long-term contractual relations between countries and companies."I believe that this willingness to look for forms of win-win relationships between corporations and states is perceived," the President of Petrobras Mexico, Joao Araújo Figueira, said.

    As long as producing countries need to consolidate their hydrocarbon reserves, the global demand will not cease to grow. According to the Executive Director for Latin America and the Caribbean of Repsol, Evandro Correa, the increase in energy consumption will be underpinned by countries that are outside the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which will keep fossil fuels as the main energy source for the next two decades, covering about 80 % of the global energy matrix, with a strong emphasis on the use of natural gas. In this regard, according to Correa, the countries in the region, from Mexico to Argentina, have opportunities and challenges ahead.

    At the opening ceremony, the Minister of Industry, Energy and Mining of Uruguay, Carolina Cosse, highlighted the sustained growth of Uruguay for 14 years, which has led to a change in its energy matrix. On the other hand, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of ARPEL, Carlos Colo, said that the world has entered a new economic cycle where commodities, including energy, will be structurally low and where the region as a whole will compete in production, distribution and sales with other regions. "In view of this scenario, concepts such as efficiency, costs, productivity and technology will be significant, and ARPEL, from its role of promoting mutual cooperation and regional integration, will be strongly committed."

    Finally, the President of ANCAP, Marta Jara, highlighted the growth of renewable energies, but said that reality requires a long-term vision."We will see major changes that involve challenges and opportunities, major changes are linked to greater efficiency, not only to efficiency of energy consumption, but in the design of the systems as a whole, and they are also linked to a higher share of electricity. This reality requires a long term vision from both companies and governments responsible for public policies."

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