Latin American oil production is dominated by Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela, countries that were responsible for about 75% of the region's total output in 2014. These countries are also giants on the international stage, ranking as the world's ninth, 10th and 12th biggest oil producers , respectively. Colombia also makes a good showing in the world rankings, coming in at 19th. The following list provides production figures for each of the region's top four oil producers in addition to a few details on each country's oil industry.
Brazil accounted for oil production of about 2.95 million barrels per day in 2014, continuing a nearly unbroken trend of increasing annual oil production since at least 1980. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), more than 90% of Brazil's oil production is extracted from deep-water oil fields offshore. In recent years, Brazil has made some of the world's biggest new oil discoveries in its offshore pre-salt basins. In late 2014, national production estimates were updated to reflect developments of these new fields. The country expects production to rise to 4 million barrels per day by 2022.
Petroleo Brasileiro S.A., also known as Petrobras, is the biggest oil producer in Brazil by a substantial margin, accounting for about 2.1 million barrels per day and over 72% of Brazil's 2014 oil production. The Brazilian government holds 50.3% of the company's voting shares and controls another 9.9% of the company through shares held by the Brazilian Development Bank. Petrobras is listed on the BM&FBOVESPA exchange in São Paulo and has American Depositary Receipt (ADR) listings on the New York Stock Exchange. International oil companies operating in Brazil include Chevron Corporation, Royal Dutch Shell plc, BP plc, Repsol S.A. and China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation, also known as Sinopec.
Mexico produced just more than 2.8 million barrels of oil per day in 2014, roughly in line with production figures from the last five years. This level of production is down from previous decades, mostly due to declining output from mature oil fields. From 1991 to 2010, Mexico maintained oil production above 3 million barrels per day, including eight years exceeding 3.5 million barrels per day. While Mexico maintains its position as the third-largest crude oil exporter in the Americas, it has become a net importer of refined products, primarily gasoline and diesel.
From 1938 to 2013, Mexico's oil industry was monopolized by the state-owned oil and gas company Petroleos Mexicanos, also known as Pemex. Industry reforms were initiated in 2013 in hopes of attracting greater foreign investment to reverse production declines in the country. Pemex remains under state ownership and as of 2015, controls development rights to 83% of Mexico's proven reserves of oil.
Mexico has not yet been successful in its efforts to attract significant foreign investment. Two offshore exploration and production blocks have been awarded to a consortium including the London-listed Premier Oil plc; the privately held American company Talos Energy, LLC.; and the privately held Mexican company Sierra Oil & Gas S. de R.L. de C.V. However, 12 other blocks available at the same auction failed to attract sufficient bids. Major oil companies including Chevron, BP and Royal Dutch Shell have expressed interest in entering Mexico but are not producing in the country as of September 2015.
Venezuela produced nearly 2.7 million barrels of oil per day in 2014. Production in recent years is down from the prior two decades, when daily production fluctuated around the 3 million barrel mark, including a high of more than 3.5 million barrels per day in 1997. As of 2014, proven oil reserves in Venezuela amount to nearly 298 billion barrels; these are the biggest reserves in the world ahead of Saudi Arabia's 266 billion barrels and Canada's 173 billion barrels.
The Venezuelan oil industry is dominated by the state-owned oil and gas company, Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. The company was established in 1976 immediately after nationalization of the oil industry. In the 1990s, reforms were introduced to liberalize the industry, but policy instability has been the norm in the years since, especially after President Hugo Chavez came to power in 1999. In 2006, Chavez introduced policies that required renegotiation of existing joint ventures with international oil companies. International operators were required to grant a 60% minimum share of every project to Petroleos de Venezuela. More than a dozen international companies, including Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell, acceded to the demands. The Venezuelan operations of two companies, Total S.A. and Eni S.p.A., were nationalized after renegotiations failed. Other international companies chose to exit Venezuela soon after, including Exxon Mobil Corporation and ConocoPhillips Co.
Although policy uncertainty remains in Venezuela even after the death of Hugo Chavez in 2013, many international oil and gas companies continue to maintain operations in the country. Chevron and the Chinese oil giant China National Petroleum Corporation both signed investment agreements with Petroleos de Venezuela in 2013 to update and expand on existing joint ventures. In 2015, the Russian energy conglomerate, Rosneft OAO, agreed to a $14 billion investment plan, the largest reported international investment in the Venezuelan oil industry in recent years.
Columbia accounted for production of just more than 1 million barrels of oil per day in 2014. The country has made substantial production gains in recent years, raising output from under 550,000 barrels per day in 2007. According to the U.S. EIA, recent high rates of growth in oil, gas and coal production in Colombia can be attributed to energy industry reforms introduced in 2003. These reforms primarily worked to make investments in Colombian energy exploration and production more attractive to international companies. International investment in the oil industry reached more than $4.8 billion in 2014, about 30% of total foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country. Colombia attracted only $278 million in oil-sector FDI in 2003.
Prior to the 2003 energy reforms, the Colombian oil and gas industry was controlled by Ecopetrol S.A., a state-owned oil and gas company and industry regulator. The reforms removed regulatory functions from Ecopetrol and opened up Colombia to international competition. Ecopetrol remains under the control of the Colombian state, which holds 88.5% of its outstanding shares. The company is listed on the Colombian Stock Exchange and has ADR listings on the New York Stock Exchange and the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Ecopetrol was responsible for producing about 580,000 barrels of oil per day in 2014, approximately 57% of Colombian production. More than 100 international oil and gas companies operate in Colombia, often in joint ventures with Ecopetrol or other operators. The biggest international oil and gas producers in the country include Chevron; Repsol and its subsidiary Talisman Energy, Inc.; Occidental Petroleum Corporation; and Exxon Mobil.