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Argentina Launches Gas Pipeline From Vaca Muerta Shale Play

Argentina inaugurated on Sunday a natural gas pipeline from the Vaca Muerta shale to a town in the Buenos Aires province, as part of its efforts to become energy independent and stop paying billions of dollars for LNG imports.

Argentinian President Alberto Fernández officially launched the first leg of the Néstor Kirchner gas pipeline (Gasoducto Presidente Néstor Kirchner), which runs from the huge Vaca Muerta shale gas fields to the Buenos Aires province. The second phase of the gas pipeline will see it extending to the town of San Jeronimo in the province of Santa Fe.

Vaca Muerta—Spanish for ‘dead cow’—has been dubbed the Argentinian Permian, although its geologic properties have been compared more appropriately to the Eagle Ford.

The Vaca Muerta shale play is estimated to hold recoverable resources consisting of 16 billion barrels of oil and 308 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Those numbers make the Vaca Muerta the world’s second-largest shale gas deposit.  

The development of Vaca Muerta has hit various snags over the past half-decade, from perennial economic crises to global oil and gas crises and domestic foreign exchange limitations.

But oil and gas production has been rising since the Covid-related slump of 2020. Moreover, Argentina – plagued by incessant economic crises – has vowed to become energy independent by building infrastructure to ship the massive resources of Vaca Muerta in the western province of Neuquen to the major consuming centers in the east such as Buenos Aires and ports for potential exports.

The first leg of the Néstor Kirchner gas pipeline is Argentina’s most important infrastructure work of the past 40 years, the president’s office said.

“We made our energy sovereignty a reality,” President Fernández said.

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The pipeline will supply industrial and household gas demand at competitive prices while saving Argentina $4.2 billion worth of gas import bills per year, the presidency said.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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