Argentina oil production hits near-decade high in December

BUENOS AIRES, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Argentina’s oil production hit a near 10-year high in December, the energy secretariat said on Thursday, with output of 559,000 barrels per day, as the government looks to ramp up domestic output and reduce reliance on energy imports.

That production was the most since October 2012, driven by higher output in the huge Vaca Muerta shale formation, which was up 64% versus a year earlier as the South American country bounces back from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This record oil production really underscores the geological quality of Vaca Muerta,” provincial governor Omar Gutiérrez said.

Production of gas in December reached 129 million cubic meters per day, driven by the government’s so-called Gas Plan to rev up output, which promoted investments in the sector. Unconventional gas production represented 52% of the total.

Argentina fell back into an energy deficit in 2021 due to the impact of the pandemic and analysts expect the country to post another deficit this year. (Reporting by Eliana Raszewski; Writing by Carolina Pulice; Editing by Maximilian Heath and Bill Berkrot)