BUENOS AIRES, Sept 5 A province in Argentina
will auction the international rights to explore part of the
Vaca Muerta shale oil and gas formation, considered one of the
largest in the Western Hemisphere, a regional official said on
Neuquen province, home to most of Vaca Muerta, will auction
a 500 square kilometer swath of the formation, after companies
that won concession rights there in 2008 failed to follow
through with investments, Guillermo Coco, energy minister for
the region of Patagonia said.
"The idea is to hold the auction in March or April," he said
in a telephone interview. "We are going to test the market to
see how interested companies are, at least in exploration."
The massive deposit of unconventional resources has been in
the international spotlight since its potential was discovered,
but some global companies are uneasy about making big
investments in Argentina because of interventionist economic
The administration of President Cristina Fernandez seized
the energy company YPF from Repsol last year, claiming the
Spanish company had not invested enough in Argentina.
YPF operates in 3 million net acres of Vaca Muerta
and has estimated that the entire formation contains 661 billion
barrels of oil and 1,181 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
In July, U.S. oil company Chevron Corp signed an
agreement with YPF to invest $1.24 billion in Vaca Muerta, the
first major investment announced in Argentina's petroleum sector
since the YPF's nationalization.