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Statoil, YPF Finalize Joint Vaca Muerta Development Deal

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Norway’s Statoil and Argentine YPF have finalized a deal for the joint development of a block in the Vaca Muerta shale oil and gas play, the second-largest in the world. Under the deal, the partners will each take a 50-percent interest in the 38,800-acre Bajo del Toro block, with YPF acting as the operator.

The deal, which was first announced last August, is Statoil’s first project in Argentina. Under its terms, Statoil will pay YPF US$30 million to cover the costs the Argentine company has already incurred with relation to the block, and also pledge US$270 million for future capital expenditure.

The Vaca Muerta formation is estimated to hold some 16.2 billion barrels of crude oil and 308 trillion cu ft of natural gas, which makes it the second-largest in terms of gas reserves globally.

Among the Big Oil players who have declared interest in taking part in the development of Vaca Muerta are Chevron and Exxon. They have already invested in exploration there: Exxon has ponied up $250 million and plans to add another $10 billion to this over the next 20-30 years. Chevron invested $1.5 billion when it struck a joint venture deal with YPF three years ago.

YPF also has joint ventures with Total, BP, Shell, Schlumberger, and Wintershall in Vaca Muerta, on which the Argentine company is focusing as a means of ensuring long-term oil and gas production growth.

The state oil and gas company of Argentina plans to spend US$21.5 billion on new oil and gas production over the next five years in the hopes of increasing crude oil production by 26-percent.

YPF will sell some assets to gather the funds necessary for this ambitious production-raising plan, and it will also enlist the help of other companies, which will contribute an estimated US$8.5 billion to its five-year investment program.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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