Oil production in the Argentine province of Neuquen rose 6.75 percent in the second half of 2014 from the first half, due in part to increased output at the Vaca Muerta shale field, according to data provided on Monday by the provincial government.
Vaca Muerta represented 18.08 percent of the province’s overall oil output of 3.4 million cubic meters in the second half, up sharply from 11.58 percent in the first six months of the year, the data showed.
Covering an area the size of Belgium, Vaca Muerta is one of the world’ largest shale oil and gas formations and one that Argentina is anxious to develop.
Neuquen’s natural gas output rose 7.35 percent in the last six months of 2014 from 8.66 million cubic meters in the first half. Production at Vaca Muerta made up 23.77 percent of Neuquen’s overall gas production in the second half versus 19.51 percent in the first, the provincial data showed.
Combined shale oil and natural gas output from the Vaca Muerta formation was about 33,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) at the end of September, with a trend toward growth, data provided by Neuquen showed on Friday.
State-run oil company YPF says $200 billion of investment is needed for the South American country to close its $7 billion a year deficit in energy trade.
YPF was nationalized in 2012 when the Argentine government seized 51 percent of the company from Spanish oil major Repsol .
Many investors have shied away from Argentina due to interventionist policies including the expropriation of YPF, import restrictions, currency controls and the country’s history of sovereign bond defaults.