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ECONOMY | 15-06-2021 16:32

Vaca Muerta awakes to reach record production levels

Vaca Muerta shale mega-deposit reached historic levels of activity last month, according to a new report.

Production of unconventional oil is continuing its sustained growth in Argentina, marking a monthly record.

Last month, the Vaca Muerta shale mega-deposit in the Patagionian province of Neuquén reached historic levels of activity with 1,081 drilling sites for hydraulic fracturing (better known as fracking), according to a private report released on Monday by the Centro de Estudios de Energía, Política y Sociedad (CEEPYS).

Even without the May data being totally processed, April oil production had already reached a daily 152,745 barrels, representing a 1.9 percent increase over March.

More is expected for May on the basis of massive fracking. The technique, which enables the extraction of gas and oil from the subsoil to be increased, opens up high hopes that Vaca Muerta will allow Argentina to consign its gas deficit to the past, without having to import liquid fuels any more.

April production of unconventional oil shot up 53.6 percent by comparison with the same month last year, opening up a very positive panorama, oil sector sources told the Noticias Argentinas news agency.

Overall, oil production (both conventional and unconventional) in April totalled a daily 502,486 barrels, representing a nine-percent increase on the same month in 2020 and 1.1 percent compared to last March.

April gas production was 0.2 percent down on March and 2.2 percent less than the previous April at a daily 114.17 million cubic metres while unconventional gas was 2.7 percent down the previous month and 3.5 percent under the previous April at 47.67 million cubic metres daily, representing 41.7 percent of total production.

According to the CEEPYS report, 11.8 percent less electricity was generated in April than in March, reaching an hourly 10,143 gigawatts. The generation of conventional thermal energy represented 67 percent of the total with combined cycle power plants accounting for 84 percent, wind energy 9.5 percent and solar energy 1.4 percent.

YPF oil production remained stable, increasing 0.2 percent from the level of a daily 236,921 barrels, representing 47.15 percent of total national production and slightly increasing its share.

Of the May record of 1,081 drilling sites for Vaca Muerta fracking, the state oil company accounted for 512, thus maintaining its lead.

The consultant study highlighted that gas production both nationwide and in Vaca Muerta was slightly down on March although YPF, Total and Pan American Energy all increased production.

Vaca Muerta gas production represented 41.75 percent of the total while its oil maintains a sustained growth, passing from a share of 27.77 percent to 30.34 percent between March and April.

The report highlights that thermal power generation continues being the main energy source used to satisfy demand, followed by hydraulic dams. But renewable energy almost caught up with hydraulic power, ending up only two percent below.

– TIMES/NA

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