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Wintershall begins own-operated Argentina shale exploration programme

18th March 2015

Wintershall has launched its first own-operated exploration well in Argentina in the in Aguada Federal block in the province Neuquén

Alongside the US, Argentina is one of the most important growth regions in the field of unconventional oil and gas production. Source: Wintershall

Wintershall has launched its first exploration well in the central Argentinean province Neuquén in the own-operated Aguada Federal block. Together with the local state-owned energy company Gas y Petróleo del Neuquén S.A. (GyP), Germany’s largest, internationally active crude oil and natural gas producer intends to investigate the promising block and continue with its development.

Argentina has potential. Alongside the US, Argentina is one of the most important growth regions in the field of unconventional oil and gas production. The South American country has the second-largest shale gas deposits and the fourth-largest shale oil deposits in the world.

The vertical exploration well aims to provide important information about the characteristics of the crude oil and natural gas reservoir, which includes promising shale rock of the so-called ‘Vaca Muerta’ formation. The launch of a second exploration well is also planned for 2015. Depending on the results of both vertical exploration wells, Wintershall aims to sink up to six horizontal wells subsequently to prove and optimise the planned development concept.

“There is a great deal of potential in shale rock in Argentina, but we need additional insights regarding the exact nature of the reservoir,” said Mario Mehren, member of the Wintershall Board of Executive Directors responsible for E&P activities in Argentina, explained. “Wintershall has the technologies to do research in a responsible manner.”

Wintershall has held a 50 per cent share in the Aguada Federal block in the Neuquén province since 2014, and is the operator of this block. It has been active in the Neuquén province for over 20 years and has so far produced oil and gas there from various conventional and tight gas reservoirs.

Wintershall holds shares in the blocks San Roque (since 1994), Aguada Pichana (since 1996) and Bandurria (since 2001). The three neighbouring blocks also show potential for shale oil and gas as they are located in the region of the very promising Vaca Muerta formation.  Here too further wells are drilled now to investigate this potential more closely.

“The exploration and production of unconventional energy resources poses high technological requirements. Wintershall is in an excellent position to master these challenges thanks to the decades of experience it has gained in environmentally responsible and efficient production from complex tight gas reservoirs in Germany, and the specialist technological expertise it has acquired as a result of this,” Mehren said.

“Wintershall has been active in Argentina for 37 years, and in the Neuquén province for over 20 years. We are pleased that we can bring our technological know-how and broad expertise in efficient and ecologically responsible production to Aguada Federal, a project that is drawing a lot of attention in Argentina,” said Gustavo Albrecht, managing director of Wintershall Argentina.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), there are 23 trillion cubic metres of shale gas in Argentina, which equals 11 per cent of the global shale gas reserves. Argentina also has the fourth-largest shale oil reserves worldwide with 27 billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe).

Shale oil and shale gas are embedded in the compact rock where they were formed. In contrast to conventional and tight gas reserves they were not able to migrate to higher and more permeable rock strata. That is why horizontal wells and hydraulic stimulation (hydraulic fracturing) are necessary to extract this oil and gas. So far, around 400 shale wells in the entire Vaca Muerta region have been sunk.



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