The New Energy Landscape: Shale Gas in Latin America

Mares, David R.
Dec 2012
This paper examines the potential for shale gas in Latin America, and the technical and institutional obstacles to the industry's development. The first part of the paper analyzes the characteristics of the shale gas revolution that developed in the U.S. and highlights its precarious nature, the requirements for its initial development, and future prospects. The second part turns to the Latin American context - with a focus on Argentina and México - drawing on the lessons from the U.S. experience to postulate where the significant obstacles to shale gas production in the region lie, why successfully addressing those challenges is problematic in key countries, in which countries the challenges are likely to be successfully engaged, and what it all means for how markets and trade in shale gas will evolve. The paper concludes that while Latin America's abundance of shale gas reserves could well prove a boom for the region, the myriad political and institutional obstacles faced by national governments mean that a shale gas revolution of the nature seen in the US remains a distant prospect.