Latin America's oil production past its peak
By Diego Mantilla
Latin America’s production of conventional oil reached its peak during the last decade and is now in a process of inexorable decline, according to data released by ASPO, the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas.
Considering all of Latin America, ASPO’s data points out that the region reached its oil production peak in 1998, while the peak of oil discovery came in 1977. Normally, any oil producing region, be it a single field or an entire continent, reaches its peak production rate some time after discoveries reach their maximum. ASPO’s data is consistent with that methodology.
While the data relies on public sources and is subject to rounding, ASPO claims that its compilation is a useful tool to determine the general oil production trend. Latin America’s oil deposits are depleting at a rate of 3.3% per annum, according to the data.
Taken together, Latin American countries produce approximately 7.5 million barrels of oil per day. ASPO estimates that the region held 192 billion barrels before exploration began, of which 110 billion have been extracted so far.
The leading producer, Mexico, produced in 2004 about 3.5 million barrels per day and had an annual depletion rate of 5.0%. Venezuela produced about 2 million barrels per day with an annual depletion rate of 3.2%
Earlier this year various publications, including the Mexican daily La Jornada, reported that Mexico’s biggest oil field, the supergiant Cantarell in Campeche Sound, had reached its production peak.
This data applies solely to regular or conventional oil. It excludes bitumen, extra-heavy oil, heavy oi, deepwater oil, polar oil, and liquids from gas plants, according to ASPO.