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Striking a balance: E&P rounds in Uruguay and Peru

Striking a balance: E&P rounds in Uruguay and Peru

In Latin America, as in other developing regions, governments holding their annual E&P licensing rounds must strike a balance between their interest in attracting foreign capital to develop oil and gas resources and ensuring their fair share of the benefits. Although clearly very different, the cases of Peru and Uruguay provide a window into the needs and challenges of countries seeking an equilibrium between these goals. Peru is attempting to revitalize its long-established, but flagging oil and gas industry, so far with mixed results. Uruguay, meanwhile, is building its industry from the ground up, based on unproven, but promising hydrocarbons prospects.

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Reviving Peru’s E&P sector
Despite Peru’s long history with oil and its 630 million barrels in proven reserves as of end-2012, crude production has declined persistently since the 1990s as the country has struggled to replace depleted fields. The government has prioritized the revitalization of state oil firm Petroperú and this could spearhead the reinvigoration of Peru’s upstream sector.

Venturing into the Uruguayan frontier
Uruguay produces no hydrocarbons to speak of, instead relying on imports mostly from its neighbors in the region. Likewise, exploration in this small South American nation has historically ranged from limited to nil. But over the last four or five years the county has seen a flurry of E&P activity, kicked off by an offshore bidding round in 2009, and four seismic vessels are currently surveying in Uruguayan waters.

Elsewhere in Latin America
Brazil recently held one of the year’s most closely watched licensing rounds for the Libra prospect, while Colombia is gearing up for its 2014 licensing round with industry regulator ANH set to continue pushing the country’s unconventional and offshore potential. Trinidad & Tobago and Guatemala are both seeking to attract new E&P investment as their production levels decline, and in Ecuador, the government is currently accepting offers for 13 blocks in the southeastern Ecuadorian jungle, close to the border with Peru.

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