Populist candidates in Colombia, Brazil, and Mexico have campaigned on dramatic new reforms for state-run oil industries and are now gaining momentum in polls.
The frontrunner in Mexico's upcoming election, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, fervently opposed the historic energy reforms when they were passed several years ago.
In the most recent auction in Mexico, 19 out of 29 bids were awarded, sharply higher than the seven expected by the government. Officials estimate that the awarded blocks could eventually attract $93 billion in investment.
Upcoming presidential elections in Latin America could be decisive in advancing policies to maintain oil revenues. However, in the current climate of growing polarization and deeply unpopular incumbents, the elections are generating tremendous political uncertainty.
Canada's oil market is dealing with transportation constraints while heavy crude producers such as Colombia and Venezuela are seeing output declines and OPEC producers are cutting production.
While the Mexican government has drastically overhauled the oil sector to allow foreign investment, recent news of enormous offshore discoveries are, to date, the largest and most significant manifestations of those reforms.
An average of 11 million barrels of fuel were stolen per year between 2009 and 2015, with the amount soaring to higher levels in 2016. Fuel theft could become a greater issue for Pemex if the increasing trend continues.
There is still a long way to go before Mexican production can grow in a meaningful way, but several years since the landmark liberalization of the country’s energy sector, the situation is finally moving in the right direction.
Exports of refined products and a rebound in gasoline demand have been crucial elements of refiner success as of late.
Low oil prices and soaring budget deficits have provided motivation for emerging markets to scrap the status quo with regards to fuel subsidies. Despite short-term pain from liberalizing prices, as seen currently in Mexico, longer-run benefits of curbing oil demand growth will emerge.