Latin American is set to auction off a record high number of oil and gas blocks - some 1,100 - selling off its natural resources to foreign investors.
Mexico already had its first licensing auction in January taking in US$93 billion in investment pledges and secured another US$8 billion shortly after. President Enrique Peña Nieto has scheduled a sell-off of another 37 plots in July and nine in September, but the current leading candidate, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has said that if elected July 1 he’ll do everything he can to reverse these programmed sales.
Brazil is relaxing its bidding rules and encouraging foreign oil investment, selling approximately US$2.4 billion in offshore block pledges last month, adding to the US$30 billion the government secured in an October auction. The Michel Temer administration is even auctioning off wells from its state-run Petrobras. Brazil is also switching to a permanent auction method that will allow the continual sale of 850 onshore and offshore blocks starting in May, a number that could climb to 1,700 in 2019.
Next month Colombia expects begins its permanent auction program potentially selling off 25 onshore and offshore blocks. The Juan Manuel Santos government is in the beginning phases of seismic studies in the Caribbean Sea off the Colombian coast that the administration hopes will become productive in the near future.
As oil prices rise higher than in the recent past, the neoliberal Argentine administration under Mauricio Macri is now letting private energy companies pick the places they want to drill in and is also hoping to entice investors to their Atlantic coastline with their first offshore auction in July. This is a drastic change from the Cristina Fernandez administration that prohibited the Spanish oil firm Repsol from partnering with state-owned energy companies.
Paraguay, Ecuador, Guyana, and Suriname are in talks with oil companies to find private partnership for their state-run oil firms.