U.S. Energy Information Administration - EIA - Independent Statistics and Analysis
Country Analysis Note
- Chile is the only member of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in South America. It is the fifth-largest consumer of energy on the continent, but unlike most other large economies in the region, it is only a minor producer of fossil fuels. Therefore, Chile is heavily dependent on energy imports.
- Chile imported over 300,000 barrels per day (bbl/d of oil) in 2013, which is fairly evenly split between refined petroleum products and crude oil. Imported crude oil, as well as a small amount of domestically produced crude, is processed in three refineries owned by the state-owned Empresa Nacional del Petróleo (ENAP), with a total capacity of 227,000 bbl/d.
- Most of Chile's crude oil imports originate in other South American countries, particularly Ecuador, Brazil, Colombia, and Argentina. However, the United States is Chile's leading source of refined petroleum product imports. In 2013, the United States supplied 143,000 bbl/d, mostly in the form of distillate fuel oil.
- In 2013, Chile imported 140 Bcf of natural gas. Most of Chile’s natural gas imports arrive as liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Trinidad and Tobago, Qatar, and Yemen. Chile has two regasification terminals: Mejillones, in the north, and Quintero, near the large urban centers of Valparaíso and Santiago. Chile also imports natural gas from Argentina by various pipelines that were constructed in the late 1990s. Imports from Argentina grew dramatically in the decade that followed, but Chile expedited its efforts to develop LNG import capabilities after policy changes and production declines curtailed Argentina's natural gas exports. More recently, Canadian methane-producing company, Methanex Corporation, idled at least part of its large methanol production in southern Chile, reportedly because of inadequate supplies of natural gas from Argentina. The company has plans to relocate two of its Chilean plants to Louisiana.
- According to its energy ministry, Chile plans to meet more of its domestic demands through increased natural gas supplies. The expected expansion of the Panama Canal widens Chile’s import options, including LNG from the United States and other South American countries. Chile has also been exploring in its Magallanes shale basin to boost domestic production.
- Chile had 18 gigawatts (GW) of installed electric capacity as of 2011. Approximately one-third of Chile's electric capacity and generation are attributable to hydroelectric plants that provide much of the electricity to Chile's largest grid, the Sistema Interconectado Central (SIC). Wind capacity had grown to an estimated 190 megawatts (MW) as of 2011.
- Most of the country's electricity supply that is not supplied by hydroelectricity, including to the Sistema Interconectado del Norte Grande (SING) grid which supplies power to many large mining operations, is provided by fossil fuel plants. The generation of power from coal and natural gas has increased dramatically in recent years, mostly at the expense of oil-fired generation, according to statistics from the Comisión Nacional de Energía.
- As with oil and natural gas, Chile imports most of the coal it consumes. In 2012, Chile imported 97% of its consumption. In an effort to reduce coal import dependence, Chile approved the Mina Invierno coal mining project which began production in 2013 and is expected to meet 30% of Chile's domestic demand.
Analysis Last Updated: July 2014
Overview data for Chile+ EXPAND ALL
-- = Not applicable; NA = Not available; E = Estimate value
Sources: EIA. For more detailed data, see International Energy Statistics.
Data last updated: May 30, 2013
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