Apache presses Neuquen unconventional gas drilling

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, May 17
-- Apache Corp. said a subsidiary is continuing to evaluate the potential of unconventional resources in the low-permeability Precuyo formation and Los Molles and Vaca Muerta shales in Argentina’s Neuquen basin.

The company said it has drilled more than 70 unconventional wells in four Neuquen fields since 2008. Its production under Argentina’s Gas Plus incentive program reached 75 MMcfd of gas with an average price of $4.93/Mcf in April.

One recent well, the horizontal ACS-15h, in Anticlinal Campamento field in southern Neuquen Province, tested at a rate of 7 MMcfd after multistage fracs in the Precuyo, a complex reservoir of volcanics, granites, and tight sands. The well has a 2,800-ft lateral at 12,800 ft true vertical depth. Interests are Apache 85% and Pampa Energia 15%.

Apache said it has identified a couple more locations to drill near ACS-15H in AC field but will study the longer-term performance of the first well before drilling others. Apache has been actively developing the Precuyo in other areas and sees additional upside beyond the AC Field. At this point, however, the company declined to speculate on other development plans.

Developing unconventional resources requires substantial investments, so Apache and other operators need incentives like the Gas Plus program that permits higher prices for gas from unconventional reservoirs, said Jon Graham, Apache’s vice-president and country manager in Argentina. Neuquen’s extension of Apache’s concession agreements also encourages investment, he noted.

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