High petroleum prices are motivating many Central American countries to seek oil and/or gas deposits.
Guatemala, currently the region's only petroleum producer, wants to increase production, which fell to five million barrels in 2010, the fifth consecutive year of declining output.
Geological surveys suggest that the countries with Caribbean coastlines - Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama - may have deposits of hydrocarbons, especially natural gas. Major oil reserves have long been exploited in the northern Caribbean in Mexico, and in the south in Venezuela, which also has vast gas fields.
The problem for the region, as it is for the rest of the world, is that oil prices during the past 12 months were almost a third higher than the average of the previous four years. As growth in global demand grows faster than the increase in new production - so-called "peak oil" - the world faces the phenomenon of permanent high prices, which can be offset in any country, which produces hydrocarbons. But first, it has to find them.
- Exploration companies
- Energy companies
- Equipment suppliers