Penguins and Natgas

The South American natural gas market is looking more and more interesting.

Demand here continues to be strong. The continent was the only place outside Asia where LNG imports grew in 2012. Up 34.5% over 2011. (European LNG imports fell 23.6% in 2012, and North American imports dropped 33.1%.)

South America is still a relatively small gas market. All told, they bring in 4.6% of global LNG landings. But growth is going in the right direction.

And supply is relatively limited.

The continent’s largest gas producer, Argentina, has been in production decline since 2006. Bolivian output has stalled the last few years.

Brazil is still seeing decent growth in output. This gas however, is located far from demand centers in the west.

But the tightening market is starting to drive some new opportunities.

This month, exploration and production company GeoPark announced more good results from its Chilean gas projects. The firm tested 3.3 million cubic feet per day from its Fell Block, in the Magellan/Austral Basin of southern Chile (not quite where the penguins are, but pretty far down).

Chile is a good spot to be. Its natgas demand doubled between 2008 and 2011. And the country has been contracting more LNG at global prices, amid reports that the gas is needed to feed power demand.

Gas projects in the country are an interesting play. Or LNG export projects positioned to serve this market.

Here’s to getting gas when you need it,

Dave Forest

dforest@piercepoints.com / @piercepoints / Facebook

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