The discovery and exploitation of new oil and gas wells in the extreme south of Chile has generated a boom for the Magallanes Region which is creating a significant demand for technicians and specialized labour.
This at the same time has had a positive impact on lodging, the hotel industry, inputs in general and transport, reports a special envoy from Santiago's El Mercurio, Chile's most important daily. According to the report ten energy corporations are scheduled to invest 102 million US dollars in exploration and drilling while the region's labour force, currently 66.000 people, is expected to increase to 88.000 in a few years time. Even staff from Chile's government owned oil corporation ENAP have been offered jobs in the new industry, said Jorge Balich head of the ENAP workers union. A more scientific paper on the development of the region from economist Roberto Zahler points out that if gas and oil exploration is as successful as has been the case so far, job creation will increase at an annualized 3.1% until 2018. Optimism is based on the recent discovery of an oil well, "Manekenk 1" with a daily production of 1.300 barrels, 100 kilometres to the north of Punta Arenas. The operations are under control of GeoPark Holdings which has drilled nine wells of which seven have been successful and are in the process of commercial production. Natural gas is vital for the huge Methanex plant in Punta Arenas which currently works at a fifth of its potential given the lack of Argentine gas as was originally planned when the project was drafted a decade ago. According to the regional representative of the Chilean Ministry of Economy, Javier Solís, the oil and gas companies will generate 1.100 direct jobs plus thousands more with contractors and supporting services. "I believe the region will be short of qualified labour which hopefully will attract more engineers and other professionals to Magallanes", said Solís. Marcos Ivelic, president of the Magallanes Commerce and Industries chamber estimates the demand for personnel transport will jump 100% plus the car, vans and trucks rentals for the oil and gas companies. The hotel industry is also hopeful. "We have a 7% increase in bookings since the first companies begun operating in Tierra del Fuego. This is particularly evident in the last three months and should keep increasing", said Boris Vazquez head of the Diego de Almagro hotel in Punta Arenas. "Most professionals related to the oil company are coming from Argentina, US and Bolivia. We don't have an idea of how many, but they keep coming" said Alfredo Nodleman, Cabos de Hornos manager. Another energy area development is taking place at the Riesco Island, with an annual extraction of six million tons, which is also expected to generate more jobs and business opportunities in the Magallanes Region.