Argentina’s unconventional oil and gas resources are among the world’s largest. The Vaca Muerta is a geological formation in the Neuquén basin covering 30,000 km² mainly in the province of Neuquén at the northern end of Patagonia, containing oil and gas found at a depth of more than 2,500 meters. Argentina’s Neuquén province is the country’s most prolific hydrocarbon basin.
Bajo del Toro
In August 2017 Equinor, and Argentina’s leading energy company YPF entered into an agreement to jointly explore hydrocarbons in the Bajo del Toro block. We are in the process of converting the block into a 35 years exploitation concession.
Equinor entered the agreement as a partner with 50% interest and YPF as the operator with the remaining 50%. The Bajo del Toro exploration permit covers an area of 157 km² (38,800 acres) and the area has light oil potential in a world-class unconventional resource play.
So far, two horizontal exploration wells have been drilled into the Vaca Muerta formation, completed and put on stream during 2018 and 2019.
Six new horizontal wells will be drilled during 2019 and 2020. The plan is to start production from these wells late 2020.
Bajo del Toro Este
In November 2017 Equinor was awarded the Bajo del Toro Este exploration licence as part of the Argentina’s Gas y Petróleo del Neuquén’s (GyP) 5th bidding round.
Equinor will operate the licence with a 90 % working interest, with Gas y Petróleo del Neuquén retaining a 10 % interest. The Bajo del Toro Este licence borders the Bajo del Toro licence to the west. The Bajo del Toro Este exploration licence permit covers an area of 133 km² (32,865 ac).
Equinor has committed to one exploration well before 2022.
Aguila Mora Noreste
Equinor was awarded the Aguila Mora Noreste exploration licence in December 2019, as part of Gas y Petróleo del Neuquén’s bidding round. Equinor will be the operator with a 90 % working interest, with Gas y Petróleo del Neuquén holding the remaining 10 %. To the north the Aguila Mora Noreste licence borders both to the Bajo del Toro and the Bajo del Toro Este licences. The Aguila Mora Noreste exploration permit covers an area of 74,2 km² (18,335 acres).
Equinor has committed to one exploration well before 2023.
In January 2020, we announced a strengthening of our presence in Vaca Muerta (see press release here). Equinor and our partner Shell completed a joint acquisition of the 49% interest held by Schlumberger in the Bandurria Sur onshore block in Argentina’s Neuquén province.
The block covers around 56,000 gross acres in the central area of the prolific Vaca Muerta play. The operator is YPF (currently with a 51% interest) and the block is in the late pilot phase of development with a current production of around 10,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.
Equinor and Shell have also reached a preliminary agreement with YPF to acquire a further 11% interest from YPF. On completion of this additional transaction, which is subject to a number of conditions including authority approval, Equinor and Shell will each own a 30% non-operated interest with YPF owning a 40% interest and continuing as operator.