Uruguay Poised to Probe for Offshore Oil

According to BCP Securities, although the country has yet to discover oil or gas offshore, geological similarities with Namibia have generated optimism

¿Puede haber petróleo en el mar uruguayo?
September 25, 2023 | 09:41 PM

Read this story in


Bloomberg Línea — The discovery of offshore oil has changed the fortunes of many countries, with Guyana the most recent example: the South American nation is the economy with the highest growth rate in the world thanks to the discovery of large reserves of the fossil fuel. And with much more modest hopes in this regard, but hopes nonetheless, some believe that there may also be oil offshore iUruguay, and a report by a major US investment bank has backed that belief.

Ecopetrol, Gran Tierra Agree 20-Year Oil Production Contract Extension

A BCP Securities report, prepared by analyst Walter Molano, highlights that Uruguay’s National Fuel, Alcohol and Port Administration (Ancap) is in the final stages of granting seven offshore exploration licenses worth up to $200 million, and which have attracted global companies such as Shell.

“Although Uruguay has not yet found oil or gas in its waters, geological similarities with Namibia have raised hopes,” said Molano, who was nonetheless cautious about the prospects.

In January 2022 the oil industry was surprised with the announcement of two important offshore discoveries in Namibia, off the coast of South Africa, and which raised the hopes of both Uruguay and Argentina.


Shell first announced the discovery of light oil in Graff-1, estimating a total volume of hydrocarbons in the field, which could contain one billion barrels of oil. In February, Total made the news by announcing another significant oil discovery at the Venus-1 well, drilled a few kilometers from Graff.

Venus could contain up to three billion barrels of oil.

Exclusive: Chevron to Exit Mexico’s Oil E&P Sector

Exploration in Uruguay

The seven offshore blocks, located 100-300km off the coast of Uruguay, will see the participation of international companies in exploration and contracts are scheduled to close in mid-October.


Ancap estimates that potential oil and gas resources could total around 20 billion barrels.“Aunque Uruguay ha buscado petróleo durante décadas, intentos anteriores resultaron en pozos secos”, consigna el informe de BCP Securities.

“Planned investment in exploration is modest, but Ancap expects to attract an additional US$200 million over a six-year period. UK-based Challenger Energy was awarded two licenses, and drilling could potentially begin in 2026″, the document concludes.

Largest Water Utility in Latin America Prepares for Privatization