U.S. Energy Information Administration - EIA - Independent Statistics and Analysis
Country Analysis Note
- In 2012, Argentina was the largest natural gas producer and the fourth largest petroleum and other liquids producer in South America. Heavily regulated, Argentina's energy sector policies have limited the industry's attractiveness to private investors while shielding consumers from rising prices. Consequently, domestic demand for energy has grown rapidly while production of both petroleum and other liquids and natural gas has declined - leading Argentina to depend increasingly upon energy imports. In order to ensure that domestic demand is met, crude oil is subject to export taxes and restrictions on export volumes, which limit the profits that companies are able to generate from selling Argentine production abroad.
- To incentivize foreign investment in unconventional gas production and boost domestic energy supplies, the Argentine government has provided tax incentives to companies that form partnerships with state-owned energy company, ENARSA, for offshore exploration and offered higher gas prices for new gas production for the domestic market under the Gas Plus Plan.
- In Argentina, the energy sector is regulated by the Ministerio de Planificación Federal, Inversión Pública y Servicios (Ministry of Federal Planning, Public Investment, and Services). The Ministry includes the Ente Nacional Regulador de Gas (ENARGAS), which regulates natural gas transportation, and distribution activities; and the Secretaría de Energía (Energy Secretariat), which oversees upstream oil and natural gas production. A state-owned energy company, Energía Argentina Sociedad Anónima (ENARSA) is responsible for new offshore resource concessions.
- Argentina's energy consumption increased about 1.4% to 3.35 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) in 2010 from 2009, while annual energy production decreased for the fourth consecutive year to 3.43 quadrillion Btu.
- According to BP's Statistical Review of World Energy, total primary energy consumption in Argentina was 3.26 quadrillion Btu in 2012. Natural gas consumption accounted for approximately 52%, and consumption of petroleum products represented 34% of the total energy portfolio. Natural gas is used widely in the electricity, industrial, and residential sectors. Oil is the primary fuel used in the transportation sector. A smaller share of the country's total energy consumption can be attributed to nuclear, coal, and hydropower, which are used for electricity generation, while other renewable resources are used to produce biofuels for transportation.
- In 2013, Argentina's proven crude oil reserves increased to 2.8 billion barrels from 2.5 billion barrels in 2012, according to Oil and Gas Journal (OGJ). This increase of 300 million barrels was the result of an onshore discovery in the San Jorge Basin. In 2012, total oil production was 723,203 barrels per day (bbl/d), of which 103,000 bbl/d was from natural gas plant liquids.
- Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales (YPF) is the largest oil producer in the country. The second leading oil producer is Pan American Energy (PAE) , which is owned by BP and the Bridas Corporation (a 50-50 joint venture between the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and Bridas Energy Holdings). PAE currently operates one of Argentina's largest oil fields, the Cerro Dragón field. Chevron (U.S.), Petrobras (Brazil), and Sinopec Group (China) have had a significant presence in Argentina's upstream oil production as well.
- Argentina claims ten refineries with a combined 630,575 bbl/d of crude refining capacity, more than half of which is controlled by YPF, according to OGJ. The vast majority of capacity derives from just four refineries: YPF's refinery in La Plata (189,000 bbl/d), Shell's refinery in Buenos Aires (113,000 bbl/d), YPF's recently upgraded refinery in Lujan de Cuyo (106,000 bbl/d), and ExxonMobil's refinery in Campana (87,000 bbl/d).
- Output from Argentina's refinery capacity does not satisfy all domestic fuel demand, which amounted to 699,000 bbl/d in 2013. As a result, Argentina imported significant volumes of finished liquids products or about 105,215 bbl/d - including 36,900 bbl/d from the United States in 2013.
- In May 2012, the Argentine government, claiming under investment in the country hydrocarbon sector, passed legislation confirming the expropriation of the YPF oil and gas firm. The expropriation affected Repsol's 51% majority ownership of YPF. The government has since agreed to compensate the Spanish firm USD 5 billion for the expropriation.
- Argentina's soybean-based biodiesel production decreased to 44,804 bbl/d in 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. While annual export increases of biodiesel to the European Union (EU) have been reported by Cámara Argentina de Biocombustibles, blending is unlikely to take place into material destined for the EU, due to anti-dumping duties on Argentinian biodiesel, according to Platts McGraw Hill Financial.
- According to OGJ, Argentina held proven natural gas reserves of approximately 13.4 Trillion cubic feet (Tcf) in 2013, a significant decrease from a peak of 27.5 Tcf in 2002. According to IHS Energy, the sharpest decline in reserves has been in the Neuquén and Noroeste basins. Only the Cuyana and Golfo San Jorge basins showed increases in proven natural gas reserves during the same period.
- While foreign investment was tepid following the expropriation of YPF, a joint venture announced in 2013 between Chevron and YPF to develop Argentina's shale gas resources suggests that investor sentiment may be improving. In an effort to encourage foreign investment in shale gas exploration and production, the Argentine government, announced in July 2013 that, companies can export 20% of their production without paying export taxes and have exemption from dividend repatriation after they invest in a project for five years.
- Total Austral, a subsidiary of Total S.A. (France), is Argentina's largest natural gas producer, accounting for about 30% of the country's total domestic supply. YPF, Argentina's second largest natural gas producer, accounts for over 23% of the country's natural gas output. Other significant players in the natural gas sector include Pan American Energy, Petrobras (Brazil), Pluspetrol (Argentina), Tecpetrol (Argentina), and Apache Energy (U.S.).
- Argentina produces more natural gas than total petroleum liquids. However, the country's natural gas output decreased for a sixth consecutive year to 1.3 Tcf of dry natural gas in 2012. The largest-gas producing basins include NeuquÃ©n, Austral, and Noroeste. Together, these three basins account for roughly 85% of the country's natural gas production.
- According to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, Argentina has 17,958 miles of natural gas pipelines. Predominant pipelines include Neuba I, Neuba II, and San Martin, which connect producing provinces in the Neuquén, San Jorge, and Austral basins with Buenos Aires and other demand centers. Bolivia is the source of virtually all of Argentina's natural gas imports via pipeline. In 2012, Argentina imported 316 Billion cubic feet (Bcf) of natural gas.
- Although Argentina is a net importer of natural gas, it continues to export natural gas to its neighbors – largely Chile and, to a lesser extent, Uruguay. However, Argentina's reliability as a regional natural gas exporter has occasionally been undermined by supply interruptions during periods of domestic shortages.
- Argentina consumed 114.2 billion kilowatthours in 2011 and remains the second-largest consumer of electricity in South America, after Brazil. Argentina maintains transmission interconnections and trade in electricity with Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay. The country imported 10.9 billion kilowatthours of power from neighboring countries in 2011, slightly more than the 10.3 billion kilowatthours imported in 2010. Argentina's power exports have significantly declined in recent years – dropping from 2.4 billion kilowatthours in 2009 to 1.7 billion kilowatthours in 2010 and 1.3 billion kilowatthours in 2011, as domestic demand for electricity has increased.
Analysis Last Updated: April 2014
Overview data for Argentina+ 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
Other briefs related to Argentina
Related International Information
International Energy Outlook yearly energy projections through 2040
Short Term Energy Outlook monthly energy projections through 2014
Annual Energy Outlook yearly US energy projections through 2040Sign Up for Email Updates