ExxonMobil places all Argentinian shale assets under review

Jonathan Gilbert, Bloomberg August 02, 2023

(Bloomberg) – ExxonMobil Corp., which once planned to bet big on Argentina’s oil and gas riches, has put all of its shale assets in the country under review.

Exxon is involved in six areas of Argentina’s heralded Vaca Muerta — Spanish for Dead Cow — formation in Patagonia. The company’s plans to ramp up development of its flagship site, called Bajo del Choique-La Invernada, never really took off. Today, oil and gas production across all of its shale patches in the region is the equivalent of just 15,000 bpd.

The oil giant’s 21% stake in a pipeline that transports shale oil to the Atlantic coast for export is also under review, according to a company official.

In Latin America, Exxon is more focused in Guyana. If the company does exit Argentine shale, it would be seen as a blow to the country’s hopes of fully tapping Vaca Muerta’s riches. The region’s geology rivals U.S. basins like the Permian, but drilling has been held back in part by protectionist policies, leaving the lion’s share to national energy companies.

With some analysts forecasting that peak global oil demand is around the corner, total crude production by all companies in the Neuquen basin, a proxy for Vaca Muerta, is almost 400,000 bpd. That compares with 5.8 MMbpd in the Permian.

Exxon isn’t considering selling its three Argentine offshore exploration blocks or its offices in Buenos Aires, where 3,000 workers service global operations.

Connect with World Oil
Connect with World Oil, the upstream industry's most trusted source of forecast data, industry trends, and insights into operational and technological advances.