By Stephany Romanow
The major takeaway from the US Energy
Information Administrations (EIAs) new Liquid
Fuels and Natural Gas in the Americas report is that the
Americas, including North America, Central America, the
Caribbean and South America, are significant contributors to
the global markets.
This region rivals the Middle East (ME) in oil production, and
it is exceeding the former Soviet Union (FSU) in natural gas
production. Key findings from the EIA country report are:
- US crude oil imports from Latin America are declining,
but crude imports from Canada are increasing.
- Crude exports from other Americas countries are shifting
to Asia-Pacific nations, especially China and India.
- From 2003 to 2012, US imports of crude oil from other
countries in the regionprimarily from Canada, Mexico,
and Venezuelaaveraged 5.01 million bpd (MMbpd).
- The US has become a net exporter of petroleum products,
exporting 2 MMbpd to countries in the region (primarily
Mexico and Canada) in 2012 compared to 0.6 MMbpd in
- In 2012, the countries of the Americas were the world's
second-leading producer and consumer of liquid fuels, and
leading producer and consumer of natural gas. Estimates of
the region's reserves and resources indicate that the
Americas will continue to increase production and consumption
of liquid fuels and natural gas in the future.
- Intra-America trade accounted for 56% of the
total crude imports and 73% of total crude exports for this
region. Intra-American crude oil and petroleum products trade
accounted for most of the total trade in the region.
- US petroleum product exports to Latin America are rising
to meet growing demand. In Latin America, demand for refined
products is outstripping domestic refining capacity. Intra-Americas
trade accounted for 66% of total refined product imports and
86% of total petroleum products exports from this
- The Americas accounted for 20% of global natural gas
trade, with imports and exports each totaling 6 trillion
cubic feet (Tcf). More than 80% of natural gas trade was via
pipeline to neighboring countries, with the remainder traded
as liquefied natural gas (LNG). EIA expects natural gas
exports from the Americas to increase as natural gas
production increases, particularly in the US. Additional LNG
export terminals will facilitate these exports.
- Regarding natural gas trading, the Panama Canals
ability to handle larger ships is forecast to begin in 2015.
The modernized and expanded canal will facilitate greater
access to Asian markets from the Americas natural gas
producers in the Atlantic basin.
- Openness to outside investment in the oil and gas
industry varies across the nations making up the Americas.
Recent production trends are more positive in countries with
open investment laws and regulations.
- Future extraction, development, and commercialization of
hydrocarbon resources in the Americas
will be significantly influenced by national policies towards
foreign investment. Mexico, which recently adopted new energy
reforms to allow foreign private investment in the energy
sector, will look to join countries with open investment
structures, like Canada, Brazil, Colombia and the US.
- Chinas national oil companies (NOCs) are providing
significant investment over the past five years for both
crude oil supplies and physical assets such as refineries in
Full executive summary
The recently published EIA report, Liquid
Fuels and Natural Gas in the Americas, examines the major
energy trends and developments of the past decade in the
Americas. It focuses on liquid fuels and natural
gasparticularly, reserves and resources, production,
consumption, trade and investment. The Americas, which include
North America, Central America, the Caribbean, and South
America, account for a significant portion of the global
supply, demand and trade of both liquid fuels and natural gas.
Liquid fuels include all petroleum and petroleum products,
natural gas liquids (NGL), biofuels and liquids derived from
other hydrocarbon sources.
At the outset of 2013, the Americas region accounted for
one-third of proved worldwide reserves of crude oil, at 536
billion bbl, and one-tenth of proved natural gas reserves, at
688 Tcf, as well as immense recoverable resources of oil and
gas including reservoir resources, tight oil and shale gas.
In 2012, the Americas produced 29% of the worlds
liquid fuels supply, at almost 26 MMbpd, and consumed one-third
of the worlds liquid fuels, at nearly 30 MMbpd. Combined,
the countries in the region imported and exported substantial
volumes of both crude oil and refined petroleum products,
accounting for 25% of global crude imports, 9% of global crude
exports and 22% of global petroleum product imports and
exports. The countries in the Americas imported 4 MMbpd and
exported 3 MMbpd of refined petroleum products in 2012, much of
which was exported from the US.
For much of the past decade, the US has been a major crude
oil, petroleum product and natural gas trading partner with
other countries in the Americas. From 2003 to 2012, the US
imported about 5 MMbpd of crude oil from other countries in the
regionprimarily from Canada, Mexico and Venezuela.
However, the quantities and shares of imports from those
countries are shifting. With US crude oil production continuing
to increase, domestic production has displaced some imports of
crude oil, including those from Latin America, defined as
Mexico plus Central America, the Caribbean and South
The US has been a major petroleum product supplier to the
Americas for the past decade, and its significance as a product
supplier has grown considerably in recent years. In 2003, the
US exported 0.6 MMbpd of petroleum products to other countries
in the Americas, primarily Mexico and Canada. In 2012, US
exports to the countries in the region totaled 2 MMbpd, still
primarily to Mexico and Canada but increasingly to other
countries, most notably Brazil and Chile. As a result, the US
recently became a net exporter of petroleum products.
Refined product trade in the Americas has
changed as demand in Latin America (the Americas excluding the
US and Canada), including demand for cleaner, low-sulfur
products, has grown faster than local refinery capacity. US Gulf Coast
refineries are some of the most sophisticated and economic refining capacity in the world; they
are well positioned to provide additional supply to meet
growing demand in Latin America.
In 2012, the Americas produced and consumed about 31% of the
worlds natural gas, both at 37 Tcf, while accounting for
20% of global natural gas trade in both imports and exports,
totaling 6 Tcf. More than 80% of both natural gas imports and
exports in the Americas were transported via pipeline to
neighboring countries, while the remainder was traded within
the region as LNG. The EIA expects natural gas exports from the
Americas to increase further as natural gas supply,
particularly in the US, continues to rise as shale gas
production increases. Additional LNG terminals and the ongoing
Panama Canal expansion, which will allow passage
of larger LNG tankers, will further boost LNG exports in the
Recognizing the abundance of hydrocarbon resources in the Americas and
the availability of technical capabilities to produce them,
companies within and outside of the region have invested
heavily in developing and producing liquid fuels and natural
gas. Both international oil companies (IOCs) and state-owned
oil companies in the Americas have made the most substantial
investments, followed by companies based in Europe and in Asia-Pacific.
Foreign investment in the region has been concentrated in those
countries with legal and regulatory structures open to foreign
involvement. Countries with the most open structures like
Canada, Brazil, Colombia and the US have attracted
significantly more investment than others in the region.
Mexico, which recently adopted new energy reforms that allow
some types of foreign private investment in the energy sector,
looks to join their ranks.
Asian investment in the region has risen dramatically in the
past five years, in particular, investment by Chinas NOCs
to secure both crude oil supplies and physical assets, such as
refineries, especially in those countries considered to have
more restrictive foreign investment laws and regulations.
The Americas region holds an abundance of existing proven
reserves, as well as the promise of abundant resources of both
oil and natural gas. While the Americas have accounted for a
considerable portion of the global markets in liquid fuels and
natural gas and have attracted sizeable investments, the region
has the potential for further expansion and development.
The full report can be access from the EIA's website.