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With oil reserves second only to the Middle East and a rapidly expanding natural gas sector, Latin America has become an increasingly important focus of exploration and production efforts in recent years. Brazil’s massive presalt discoveries have attracted an influx of foreign and domestic investment that is widely expected to propel that country within the next few years into the ranks of the world’s top five crude oil producers. Other Latin American countries are also welcoming the technology, capital and expertise of foreign companies, but under terms and conditions that vary greatly from country to country. Meanwhile, investors are carefully monitoring the effects on the energy sector of this year’s presidential elections in Peru, Guatemala, Argentina and Nicaragua and 2012 elections in Mexico and Venezuela. At present, the latter country’s politics, economy and oil and gas industry are shadowed by uncertainty due to President Hugo Chavez’s ongoing battle with cancer (see column on p. 25).
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