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Aug 2023: The Vaca Muerta in the Neuquén basin accounts for nearly 70% of the US$10.7 bn planned investment in 2023. Total oil production rose by 12% in the 1H 2023 with 37% growth in unconventional. Gas production increased by 2.7% with 10.3% growth from the Vaca Muerta. Neuquén basin production is 640,000 bbls per day (up 10%) with 47% from the Vaca Muerta.

Jun 2023: Energía Argentina SA (Enarsa) has begun to fill its 8 bcm per year 573 km pipeline via a gas treatment plant and measuring station at the starting point in Tratayén, Neuquén province. It runs from the Vaca Muerta shale.


Sep 2022: TotalEnergies (operator, 37.5%) Wintershall (37.5%) and Pan American (25%) approved the FID on the Fenix gas development off Tierra del Fuego in the Cuenca Marina Austral 1 (CMA-1) concession. It will be developed through 3 horizontal wells, drilled from an unmanned platform in 70 m of water with gas piped to the Véga Pleyade platform. First gas should come onstream in early 2025. Capex is US$706mm.


No significant news in 2021.


Mar 2020: Tullow is acquiring a 10,500-sq km 3D multi-client seismic survey over blocks 114 and 119 of the offshore Malvinas West basin. A further 3D seismic survey will begin in late 2020 over block 122.


Oct 2019: YPF has sold its first LNG cargo to Brazil’s Petrobras for loading from FLNG Tango offshore Bahia Blanca. The first shipment of LNG from the Vaca Muerta play was in June.

Jun 2019: The CMA-1 Consortium of Total (operator, 37.5%), Wintershall (37.5%) and Pan American Energy (25%), achieved record production (equating to 8.3 bcm of gas a year) from its offshore fields in Tierra del Fuego. Gas is piped to the new Cañadón Alfa plant and the Río Cullen plant before export to the General San Martín pipeline.

Jun 2019: ExxonMobil is proceeding with development of the Bajo del Choique-La Invernada Block in the Vaca Muerta. The project is expected to produce up to 55,000 bbls of oil equivalent per day within 5 years from 90 wells. A production facility, gas pipeline and oil terminal have been in operation since 2017.

May 2019: Eni (operator, 80%), Tecpetrol (10%) and Mitsui (10%) have been awarded offshore block MLO 124 in International Bid Round Ronda Costa Afuera 1. The block is located in the Cuenca Marina Malvinas (Malvinas Basin) in water depths ranging up to 650m.

Apr 2019: Tullow (operator), Wintershall and Pluspetrol won 2 blocks in the Malvinas West basin under the Costa Afuera licensing round (MLO-114 and MLO-119) in water depths up to 500m. Wintershall already produces oil and gas off Tierra del Fuego as a partner to Total.

Apr 2019: ExxonMobil (operator, 70%) with Qatar Petroleum (30%) won 3 blocks in the 1st offshore bid round in the Malvinas West basin. Qatar (40%) also won blocks in the North Argentina basin with Shell (operator, 60%). Equinor won 4 blocks (operator, 100%), 1 block (operator, 50%) with YPF (50%), 1 block with YPF (operator, 50%) and 1 block with Total.(operator, 37.5%) and YPF (37.5%). Three are in the north.


Nov 2018: A first offshore licence round has officially opened for bids to be offered by a closing date in March 2019. A total of 24 blocks are available across the Austral and West Malvinas basins which are covered by Spectrum’s 2018 2D Multi-Client seismic data of 14,000 line kms.

May 2018: Statoil, Anadarko, CNOOC and Petronas have shown interest in offshore blocks for exploration and production. The country is still defining blocks to be included in an auction in November and is also giving incentives for companies exploring at the Vaca Muerta shale play to move to the full development phase.


Aug 2017: GeoPark (operator, 50%) and Wintershall (50%) announced the Rio Grande Oeste-1 light oil discovery in the CN-V block in the Neuquen basin, Mendoza Province. The partners are evaluating subsequent activities, including a development plan for the field next to the producing Loma Alta Sur oil field operated by YPF. The CN-V block also has potential in the Vaca Muerta.

Feb 2017: Shell and YPF have signed a 50/50 agreement to develop a shale gas pilot project in the Vaca Muerta with an investment of US$300 mm in Bajada de Añelo northeast of Loma Campana. It is a region that has both shale oil and shale gas resources.


Aug 2016: In 2 years tight gas production has almost tripled in the Neuquen basin but there is a lot of variability in well performance and economics of the tight gas formations. Longer laterals, more fracture stages and increased water and proppant use all enhance production but also increase costs.

Jul 2016: Pan American (BP) is planning to invest US$1.4 bn in 4 basins including the Cerro Dragon oil field and in shale oil and gas in the province of Neuquen which it started exploring in 2011.

Feb 2016: Total (operator, 37.5%) commenced production from the offshore Vega Pleyade gas and condensate field in Tierra del Fuego. The development consists of a wellhead platform in a water depth of 50m tied back to onshore treatment facilities. Wintershall (37.5%) and Pan American (25%) are partners. It  is the world's southern-most gas development.


Nov 2015: Production from the Vaca Muerta shale will grow slowly up to 2017 followed by more rapid growth to 2020 as more productive horizontal wells target the best intervals. There are now around 460 producing wells.

May 2015: YPF has discovered a conventional oil field in Rio Negro province . The Manzano Grande x-1 well is the company's second discovery in the Los Caldenes block.

Apr 2015: Shale oil output from the Vaca Muerta formation has increased but profitability is marginal. The Loma Campana field, developed by YPF and Chevron, is producing  nearly 45,000 bbls per day accounting for nearly all production.

Jan 2015: Crown Point (25.78%) has announced preliminary results for the second of two exploration wells at its Tierra del Fuego (TDF) concessions.  Puesto Quince (PQ) x-1001 is near gas and oil processing facilities at Rio Chico. Fracture stimulation will be required. The first well, San Luis (SL) x-1003, is now producing into the San Luis gas plant.


May 2014: ExxonMobil Corp has discovered oil and gas in an unconventional shale well in the Vaca Muerta play of Neuquen Province. The Bajo del Choique X-2 horizontal well flowed at an average rate of 770 bbls of oil a day. ExxonMobil is operator (85%) in partnership with Gas y Petroleo del Neuquen (15%).


Oct 2013: Total (operator, 37.5%) and partners Wintershall (37.5%) and Pan American (25%) are investing US$850mm to develop the Vega Pleyade gas field in the South Atlantic 70 kms off Tierra del Fuego in the Cuenca Marina Austral 1 permit. The field may start producing in early 2016 from a platform and 3 wells into a pipeline to onshore gas treatment facilities at Rio Cullen.

Sep 2013: Neuquen province will auction international rights to tap 500 sq kms of the Vaca Muerta shale formation in March 2014 after firms that won concession rights in 2008 failed to follow through with investments. YPF operates another 3 mm acres and has estimated that the formation contains 661 bn bbls of oil and 33 tcm of gas.

Sep 2013: Chevron is optimistic it will move into a second phase of investment in shale oil and gas from the Vaca Muerta. The first phase includes plans to drill over 100 wells in 2014 with a second phase requiring 1,500 wells. The hope is to raise production to 50,000 bbls per day and 1 bcm of gas per year.

Jul 2013: The Vaca Muerta shale oil and gas basin has 661 bn bbls of oil and 33 tcm of natural gas resources, according to YPF (Gs notes: these numbers must be highly speculative and have few economic connotations - it is the rate at which oil and gas can be recovered and the number of wells required that matter). Along with YPF, companies with interests in the Vaca Muerta, one of the largest shale plays in the world, include Chevron, Apache, ExxonMobil, Petrogas,  Total, Canada's Madalena Ventures and Azabache, Shell, Petrobras, Tecpetrol, and Pan American Energy, controlled by BP.

Mar 2013: YPF announced that high costs will lead to a scaling back of its shale oil drilling program. It aimed to drill 132 oil wells at the Vaca Muerta formation in Patagonia but may only manage half this figure. Vaca Muerta (Dead Cow) holds one of the world's biggest deposits of shale resources and YPF has concessions on 40%. It is trying to partner Chevron to raise capital but negotiations are slow due to a court freeze on Chevron’s assets in Argentina over a pollution case in Ecuador. Argentina is virtually shut out of global debt markets 10 years after the biggest sovereign default in history.

Feb 2013: Americas Petrogas has made a new shale oil discovery on its Totoral Block in the SW region of the Neuquen basin. LHo.x-1 well produced from the Vaca Muerta shale in the Picun Leufu sub-basin extending over the company’s Totoral, Yerba Buena and Bajada Colorada blocks. The well was drilled to 1900m in 2012 and after stimulation produced around 40 bbls per day of light oil. Americas Petrogas operates the 3 blocks with 90%, partnered with Gas y Petroleo del Neuquen (10% ).

Feb 2013: Total and Wintershall will each invest $1 bn over the next 5 years to increase gas production by an estimated 4.4 bcm each year. Oil and gas production is currently declining while has demand soared. In 2012 the government nationalised a controlling stake in YPF from Repsol accusing the company of failing to invest.

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