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Exxon Mulls an Exit From Its Dead Cow Shale Fields in Argentina – Bloomberg

  • Assets under review include flagship area, pipeline stake
  • Move comes as analysts spooked by oil giant’s large portfolio
Exxon oil production at Vaca Muerta shale field . Plans Stall for Argentina Ramp-Up
Exxon oil production at Vaca Muerta shale field (Bloomberg)

By Jonathan Gilbert, Bloomberg News

EnergiesNet.com 08 07 2023

Exxon Mobil 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.

The audit, which started in June, comes amid an earnings report that unnerved

analysts because of Exxon’s wide variety of projects — including a foray into lithium — that require large investments.

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 barrels a day.

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

on 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 US basins like the Permian, but drilling has been held back in part by protectionist policies, leaving the lion’s share to national energy companies.

Read More: ‘Dead Cow’ Awakens as Pipelines Revive Argentina’s Shale Hopes

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 barrels a day. That compares with 5.8 million barrels a day 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.

bloomberg.com 08 02 2023

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