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Editorial comment

Exploration is currently rife in Latin America.

On a personal level, I decided to ditch the fairly poor weather that has been plaguing the UK so far this year and spend the last week of May exploring the sunny island of Cuba. Starting in the timeworn but magnificent city of Havana, I moved on to the expansive tobacco plantations of Viñales, before concluding the trip with a visit to the colourful town of Trinidad, which was surrounded by both vast mountain ranges and paradise beaches. Through my travels I was immersed in a diverse range of histories, cultures and people. By the time I left Cuba my bag was filled with a bounty of souvenirs, but I also took with me some truly unforgettable memories and a renewed thirst for exploration and travel.

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Whilst I was making my journey around the country (and struggling under the weight of my overpacked rucksack), Cuba was gearing up to expand its own exploration activities. Alongside the EAGE conference, held on 3 – 6 June 2019, state-owned Unión Cuba-Petróleo (CUPET), in partnership with China’s BGP, ran an event which included presentations and data viewings relating to the 2019 licensing round, where 24 blocks offshore in the Cuban economic exclusive zone of the Gulf of Mexico are being offered.

Elsewhere in Latin America, exploration and production (E&P) companies are making a play to expand their exploration activity, this time onshore.1 The shale revolution in the US has prompted producers in Latin America, from Mexico to Argentina, to focus on how to unearth their own shale and tight natural gas resources, with some companies utilising techniques from the Lower 48 states.

In May 2019, the upstream regulator Comisión Nacional de Hidrocarburos (CNH) approved a multi-well exploration plan by Jaguar Exploracion y Produccion, Mexico’s largest private E&P company in terms of acreage. The company plans to drill four wells targeting four onshore gas prospects in the Sureste Basin near Villahermosa, Tabasco state, Mexico. More than US$20 million is expected to be invested in the programme by the company between now and 2020.

Further south in Argentina, Tecpetrol have been enhancing their exploration activities with the acquisition of its first E&P assets in the US in March 2019, through a merger with Erskine Energy Production, now named Tecpetrol Corporation.2 Furthermore, in April 2019, the company met with US company Tenaris in order for the two companies to share their experiences in shale drilling operations in both the US and Argentina.3 These activities are helping Tecpetrol expand upon their knowledge of North American shale, and apply the experiences to shale drilling in the Vaca Muerta formation in Argentina.

For Latin America, there certainly seems to be some positive moves in terms of exploration. And who knows – maybe Mexico or Argentina will feature in my travel plans next year.

In this issue of Oilfield Technology, our Contributing Editor Gordon Cope takes a further look at the Latin American oil and gas market. Turn to p. 10 to continue reading about this key region.


  1. DAVIS, Carolyn, ‘Latin American E&Ps Finding Unconventional Success Using U.S. Techniques,’ (4 June 2019),
  2. ‘Tecpetrol Acquires U.S. Assets,’
  3. ‘Tenaris and Tecpetrol exchange shales knowledge,’