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Argentina’s Shale Output Set To Normalize After Roadblocks Are Lifted

Healthcare workers who had blocked for three weeks Argentina’s vast Vaca Muerta shale play in a strike to demand higher pay lifted the blockades this week and moved to block other parts of the province.

Healthcare workers in Argentina began to strike earlier this month in an effort to get the government to acknowledge and reward their work during the COVID-19 epidemic. The protesters blocked Argentina’s largest shale play, Vaca Muerta, in the Neuquen province on April 7, disrupting operations. Some 20 days later, they said they had lifted the blockades around Vaca Muerta, while industry sources on the site told Reuters that traffic is starting to return to normal.

The strike and the roadblocks slowed down oil and gas production at Vaca Muerta and disrupted fuel distribution in the area.

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 healthcare workers have not yet accepted government proposals for higher wages as they deem them insufficient, but have agreed to move the roadblocks away from Vaca Muerta.

“We are going to move to different parts of the province. We will continue evaluating what other measures to take to ensure that the government understands our concerns, considering that we are getting hit by a second wave of COVID-19 cases,” Marco Campos, a spokesman for the healthcare workers, told Reuters.

The workers, however, are not ruling out the possibility that they might return to blocking Vaca Muerta in the future.

Due to the three-week roadblocks, production of natural gas in Argentina’s most important shale play dropped by 3.5 million cubic meters per day and crude oil output fell by around 10,000 barrels per day (bpd), according to estimates from Argus. The blockades also paralyzed some drilling rigs and fracturing equipment. 

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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