Oil industry in Latin America - Statistics & Facts

The petroleum industry in Latin America, despite playing an important role in the global market, and being a major part of the economy of countries like Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela, still shows a lot of growth potential. The region is home to the second largest oil reserves in the world, only behind the Middle East. In turn, only about seven percent of the volume of oil produced globally in 2018 came from Central and South America.

Brazil, who owns the second largest reserves in the region (amounting to more than 12 billion barrels), was by far the largest oil producer in Latin America in 2018. After the discovery and expansion of exploration of deep offshore reserves known as pre-salt between 2010 and 2014, the country's annual production has experienced an overall increasing trend, reaching around 2.7 million barrels per day in 2018 (roughly two thirds of the production volume of the United Arab Emirates in the same year). Brazil’s national oil corporation, Petrobras, reported sales for more than 90 billion U.S. dollars in 2018.

In contrast, Mexico has faced a different situation, despite ranking second in Latin America in terms of crude oil production. Pemex, the state-owned company which once had exclusive rights over oil production and distribution in the country, has faced a major production crisis in the past few years. In 2018, Mexico’s crude oil production amounted to around 1.8 million barrels a day, a decrease of almost 30 percent when compared to the beginning of the decade.

Venezuela, which holds nearly 18 percent of the global oil reserves, the largest in the world, has seen a decrease of over 50 percent in production output in the past ten years. In addition, economic sanctions have had a negative impact in the country’s oil exports, especially to the U.S. As a result, the revenue of Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) has shrunk by more than 75 percent between 2015 and 2018.

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Oil industry in Latin America

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Leading oil producing countries

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