US officials are eyeing Guatemala as a promising future source of non-OPEC oil. Guatemalan production is limited; it soil industry is in its infancy. But the potential is great. Geologists note that Mexico's rich Reforma Basin may extend as far as southern Guatemala. That tiny nation's reserves could be in the billions of barrels.
There could be a long wait, however, for Guatemalan oil. So far, the country is limiting production to 5,500 barrels daily. Pressure for an increase to at least 25,000 barrels daily is growing. Government officials resist because they want to prevent an oil rush that could trigger inflation and other problems.
A Guatemalan official admits, nevertheless, that "we have tremendous social problems that need solution. Money is part of the solution, but not all. And money alone won't answer the needs of the people. So we intend to go slow, integrating oil revenues into a national development program."m