South America has been the topic of exploration and production (E&P) conversation in the Western Hemisphere. The region’s hydrocarbon potential holds approximately a fifth of the world’s oil reserves with considerable shale gas potential, which can significantly boost a nation’s economic outlook – as demonstrated by the United States’ recent shale boom. These E&P opportunities include liquefaction and regasification terminals, enhanced oil recovery field rehabilitation projects, “pipeline distribution and transmission projects, the construction of refineries and transport infrastructure for oil, gas, and derivatives, vessels, and widespread local, regional and international electrification projects.”

In recent years, Latin countries have sought to diversify their energy matrices. As a result, the investment climates have improved in several countries, like Mexico, and exploration has expanded in Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina and Colombia.  Although the development landscape looks promising, countries like Argentina, Colombia, and Chile seeking to capitalize on their unconventional assets are learning how difficult the early stages of monetization can be. This is due to a myriad of impediments that exists for ramping up exploration in South American countries. These range from security issues to strong resource nationalism. Even as the region gains access to necessary financial investments, technology, and sourcing, scaling will continue to be an issue for these countries.

How the present concerns will be mitigated remains to be seen. Nevertheless, because the region has the resource potential to garner a larger role in the international energy landscape, the optimism amid South America’s oil and gas possibilities remains intact.