More charts: Latin America-Caribbean oil & gas drilling booms

I know you’ve been wondering: what is going on with oil drilling across Latin America? Is it really going great guns, or is that just Brazil?

Here are a couple pictures based on the monthly rig counts from Schlumberger, the world’s biggest oilfield services company.

First, the main Latin American and Caribbean oil countries:
Latam's main oil countries rig utilization

The main trend is that things are up, up and up. Good news for Spanish- and Brazilian-speaking drill bit salespeople.

Next a picture of the less substantial oil producers:

Minor Latam oil producers rig count

Not bad either.

Now the fun part: how does the most recent month compare to the countries’ 4-year average? Are countries above trend or below?

average Aug 10 vs. average Aug 10 vs. average
ARGENTINA 80.29 7.71 9.6%
BRAZIL 69.33 26.67 38.5%
COLOMBIA 58.41 31.59 54.1%
MEXICO 158.73 (4.73) -3.0%
VENEZUELA 99.04 (0.04) 0.0%
total 465.80 61.20 13.1%
BARBADOS 0.10 (0.10) -100.0%
BOLIVIA 3.80 4.20 110.8%
CHILE 1.04 1.96 188.2%
ECUADOR 15.39 2.61 17.0%
GUATEMALA 0.47 (0.47) -100.0%
NICARAGUA 0.04 (0.04) -100.0%
PERU 10.02 2.98 29.7%
TRINIDAD 6.65 (4.65) -69.9%
total 37.51 6.49 17.3%

So all of the real oil and gas producers except Mexico and Trinidad are drilling far more now than they have on average in the last four years, even though oil prices at this moment aren’t that high. (To be precise, using Venezuelan Bachaquero crude prices from the U.S. Energy Department (XLS) as a benchmark, the average price since the beginning of August 2006 was $73.06 a barrel, while in August 2010 the average price was $76.05.)

Colombia’s apertura policies are obviously paying off, and everyone wants a piece of Brazil’s big discoveries. To me the surprise gainer is Bolivia, which is drilling more than twice as much as its 4-year average. That puts it in the lead (other than Chile, which is so small that it’s not so hard to triple the trend) among the generally impressive Andean countries, where you also see groovy gains in Ecuador and Peru.

Venezuela’s number surprised me, as it shows the country has recovered from its recent payment problems and is now right at its 4-year average. Hooray, now this post will get readers, as it mentions Venezuela.