With the world oil and refined products crisis expanding particularly following the impact of hurricane Katrina which virtually knocked out 30% of United States domestic oil production, how do South American countries cope with the situation?
Actually it all depends whether the country is an oil exporter, which usually highly subsidizes domestic consumption, or if the country is a net importer and must abide by international market rules and let prices surge.
In Brazil gasoline averages US$ 4.1 a gallon (US$ 1.08 the liter). The country has an aggressive exploration and production policy with government owned Petrobras, which has lately opened to private associates.
Brazil is a leading country in offshore technology and production, and has almost reached oil self sufficiency.
Venezuela, the world’s fifth oil exporter, is estimated will divert US$ 2 billion in keeping the gasoline at 15.1 US cents a gallon (4 cents per liter).
In Argentina, an oil and natural gas rich country, gasoline costs US$ 2.4 a gallon (64 cents a liter). But Argentina could become a net importer of energy in the near future if domestic production prices, which remain frozen since the 2001/02 crisis are not allowed to adapt to world circumstances.
Ecuador is also an important producer of crude and government owned company Petroecuador dominates most of the market. Gasoline is subsidized at US$ 1.7 a gallon (44 cents a liter).
Colombia exports some oil surpluses and Ecopetrol helps in keeping gasoline prices in the range of US$ 2.3 a gallon (61 cents the liter).
Peru on the other hand which has Petroperu, considered reasonably well managed government owned company, has allowed the full impact of the 40% rise in oil prices of the last eighteen months to fully reflect in the gasoline stations. But is considering a review of taxes to avoid further increases.
In Chile gasoline averages US$ 4.2 a gallon (US$ 1.12 a liter) and in oil starved Uruguay gasoline at the pump costs US$ 4.8 a gallon (US$ 1.26 a liter).
However Brazil, Chile and Uruguay have seen their currencies appreciate considerably against the US dollar which has helped ease the impact of the oil bill.
In the United States, following hurricane Katrina, gasoline was selling for an average of US$ 2.8 a gallon (75 cents per liter).
Mercopress – www.mercopress.com