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Oil industry in Latin America - Statistics & Facts

The oil 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. However, less than seven percent of the volume of oil produced globally in 2019 came from Central and South America.

Brazil: the rising leader in production

Brazil, which owns the second largest reserves in the region (amounting to nearly 13 billion barrels), was by far the largest oil producer in Latin America in 2019. After the discovery and early exploitation of deep offshore reserves (known as pre-salt) between 2010 and 2014, the country's annual oil production experienced an overall increasing trend, reaching almost 2.9 million barrels per day in 2019 (roughly three quarters of the production volume of the United Arab Emirates in the same year). Brazil’s national oil corporation Petrobras is the largest oil company in the region, reporting sales of more than 76 billion U.S. dollars in 2019.

Mexico and Venezuela: former leaders in crisis

Despite ranking second in Latin America in terms of crude oil production, Mexico faces a different situation. Pemex, the state-owned company which once had exclusive rights over oil production and distribution in the country, has experienced a major production crisis in the past few years. In 2019, the company’s crude oil production amounted to less than 1.7 million barrels a day, a decrease of almost 35 percent when compared to the beginning of the decade.

Similarly, Venezuela - which holds the largest oil reserves in the world, accounting for 18 percent of the global total - has seen a decrease of over two thirds in oil 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. The dropping revenue from oil exports has been recently aggravated by the unprecedented drop in crude oil prices worldwide, a result of decreased demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Oil industry in Latin America

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Leading oil producing countries

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