World class play seen in Argentina's Vaca Muerta shale

By OGJ editors

An investment of $25 billion/year is needed to develop the existing prospective resource attributed to the Vaca Muerta shale formation in Argentina’s Neuquen basin, according to remarks attributed to Repsol YPF SA, Madrid.

Such an investment level could double oil and gas production in Argentina in 10 years, Repsol said. Argentina’s production averaged 551,000 b/d of oil and 3.3 bcfd of gas in 2011 (OGJ, Feb. 13, 2012, p. 31).

Ryder Scott Co. LP, Houston, estimated the resource potential of the 7.4 million acre play based on 116 million bbl of oil equivalent proved, probable, and possible reserves, 1.525 billion boe of contingent resources, and 21.167 billion boe of prospective resources.

YPF SA, Buenos Aires, had judged the Vaca Muerta as being gas prone based on results from its earliest wells, but Repsol said preliminary results indicate that 77% of the area contains oil with the rest containing dry and wet gas. Ryder Scott evaluated the contingent and prospective resources.

Ryder Scott points out that Repsol aims to drill 20 wells in 2012 jointly and with several partners to continue investigating the prospective resource. Apache Corp., ExxonMobil Corp., EOG Resources Inc., and other companies are involved in the Vaca Muerta play.

YPF had drilled 28 wells and recompleted one well by January 2012. Those included 24 vertical wells with two to four-stage hydraulic fracturing. Twenty of them produce with initial flows of 180-600 boe/d. YPF is evaluating four horizontal Vaca Muerta shale wells it drilled in late 2011.

Ryder Scott noted that the Vaca Muerta at 3,000 ft deep is three times as thick as the Eagle Ford shale.

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