Equinor Strengthens Presence In Vaca Muerta

(Equinor, 31.Jan.2020) — Equinor and its partner Shell have completed a joint acquisition of the 49% interest held by Schlumberger in the Bandurria Sur onshore block in Argentina’s Neuquén province. The consideration for each partner for their 24.5% interest is USD 177.5 million.

The block covers around 56,000 gross acres in the central area of the prolific Vaca Muerta play. The operator is YPF (currently with a 51% interest) and the block is in the late pilot phase of development with a current production of around 10,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

Equinor and Shell have also reached a preliminary agreement with YPF to acquire a further 11% interest from YPF. On completion of this additional transaction, which is subject to a number of conditions including authority approval, Equinor and Shell will each own a 30% non-operated interest with YPF owning a 40% interest and continuing as operator.

“We are very pleased to partner with Shell in the Bandurria Sur block, an asset in an area with significant potential, and to further develop our close partnership with YPF, with whom we are already exploring several onshore, offshore and renewable opportunities in Argentina. We are broadening our activities in Argentina in support of our strategy to build international growth options,” says Nidia Álvarez Crogh, Equinor’s country manager for Argentina.

As a result of the completed transaction a former subsidiary of Schlumberger, which holds the 49% interest in the block, is now equally owned by Equinor and Shell. The effective date of this transaction is 1 January 2020.

Equinor participates in eight offshore blocks in Argentina, six as operator. Equinor is also a 50% partner with YPF (operator) in the Bajo del Toro onshore block and has a 90% operated interest in the neighbouring blocks Bajo del Toro Este and Aguila Mora Noreste, with Gas y Petróleo de Neuquén (GyP). In addition, Equinor has interests in the Cañadón León onshore wind farm in Santa Cruz and the Guañizuil 2A (G2A) solar asset.

Equinor’s onshore activities in Argentina

Equinor holds an onshore exploration agreement in the Bajo del Toro license (as 50% partner with YPF) as well as an exploration licence in the Bajo del Toro Este (as 90% operator).

Argentina’s unconventional oil and gas resources are among the world’s largest. The Vaca Muerta is a geological formation in the Neuquén basin covering 30,000 km² mainly in the province of Neuquén at the northern end of Patagonia, containing oil and gas found at a depth of more than 2,500 meters. Argentina’s Neuquén province is the country’s most prolific hydrocarbon basin.

Bajo del Toro

In August 2017 Equinor, and Argentina’s leading energy company YPF entered into an agreement to jointly explore hydrocarbons in the Bajo del Toro block. We are in the process of converting the block into a 35 years exploitation concession.

Equinor entered the agreement as a partner with 50% interest and YPF as the operator with the remaining 50%. The Bajo del Toro exploration permit covers an area of 157 km² (38,800 acres) and the area has light oil potential in a world-class unconventional resource play.

So far, two horizontal exploration wells have been drilled into the Vaca Muerta formation, completed and put on stream during 2018 and 2019.

Six new horizontal wells will be drilled during 2019 and 2020. The plan is to start production from these wells late 2020.

Bajo del Toro Este

In November 2017 Equinor was awarded the Bajo del Toro Este exploration licence as part of the Argentina’s Gas y Petróleo del Neuquén’s (GyP) 5th bidding round.

Equinor will operate the licence with a 90 % working interest, with Gas y Petróleo del Neuquén retaining a 10 % interest. The Bajo del Toro Este licence borders the Bajo del Toro licence to the west. The Bajo del Toro Este exploration licence permit covers an area of 133 km² (32,865 ac).

Equinor has committed to one exploration well before 2022.

Bandurria Sur

In January 2020, we announced a strengthening of our presence in Vaca Muerta (see press release here). Equinor and our partner Shell completed a joint acquisition of the 49% interest held by Schlumberger in the Bandurria Sur onshore block in Argentina’s Neuquén province.

The block covers around 56,000 gross acres in the central area of the prolific Vaca Muerta play. The operator is YPF (currently with a 51% interest) and the block is in the late pilot phase of development with a current production of around 10,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

Equinor and Shell have also reached a preliminary agreement with YPF to acquire a further 11% interest from YPF. On completion of this additional transaction, which is subject to a number of conditions including authority approval, Equinor and Shell will each own a 30% non-operated interest with YPF owning a 40% interest and continuing as operator.

Equinor’s offshore activities in Argentina

In 2019 Equinor added eight offshore exploration blocks in Argentina to its portfolio. 

Equinor were granted permits for five blocks as operator and participated in winning bids for one block to be operated by YPF and one block to be operated by Total, in the 1st Offshore Licensing Round in April 2019. In August the same year Equinor farmed into the CAN_100 block with YPF in the North and took over operatorship.

The blocks are spread across various basins and plays and adds significant prospective acreage to Equinor’s exploration portfolio and fit with our exploration strategy, providing us with access at scale in basins with high impact potential. 

Equinor’s renewable activities in Argentina

In June 2018 Equinor acquired a 50 % interest in the Guanizul 2A (G2A) solar asset from Martifer Renewables. The project, located in the San Juan Province, has a potential to provide around 80.000 Argentine households with renewable energy. The Norwegian solar power producer Scatec Solar holds the other 50 % of the asset.

Equinor is in the final process of closing a transaction to enter the Cañadón León onshore wind project in the Santa Cruz Province currently being developed by YPF Luz. Once completed, the wind farm will have a capacity of about 120 MW and will provide energy to ~ 80 000 Argentine households.

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