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An oil wealthy country, Argentina has repeatedly tried and failed to capitalize on its potential. The unfortunate energy policies of subsequent Argentinean government and a lack of investment capital have been two of the main reasons that have significantly limited the production of export oil in the recent past. Yet, with recent discoveries and changes to the country’s hydrocarbon laws, there may be a new dawn for Argentina’s oil industry.
Since 1999 when Argentina’s oil production peaked at approximately 800,000 barrels per day, there has been a 24 percent decrease in its oil output. The country’s oil reserves have also been in steady decline. Yet, the recently enacted reforms by Argentina’s government to incentivize foreign investment in the oil industry seem to be working, allowing investors to negotiate the terms of exploration directly with local governments.
As a result, foreign investment is increasing, as well as new willingness to finance exploration of untapped reserves. Also, the discovery of shale oil in Argentina may provide the potential to become a key exporter in the region. Nonetheless, there are challenges that need to be overcome and it may be years before the various oil projects underway become profitable. The success of current oil projects, coupled with the potential of shale oil, new discoveries and the sustainability of the current energy policy reforms will likely determine if Argentina is finally able to fulfill its potential and exert itself as an oil exporter country in Latin America.
de la Fuente, Erich, "The Current State of Argentina's Oil Industry" (2011). Western Hemisphere Security Analysis Center. 33.
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