The Vaca Muerta Shale Basin in Argentina is the only unconventional play outside of North America where activity has already made the transition from exploration to full-scale development. The potential prize is huge – geographically, the Vaca Muerta Shale is three times the size of the highly prolific Permian Basin in the US, and it could turn out to be the “next Permian” if the right conditions are established. But much remains to be done before that happens.
Rystad Energy’s Shale Intel group, in collaboration with Luxmath Consulting, has released a comprehensive new report covering all aspects of the Vaca Muerta Shale – including development status, production forecasts, drilling and completion projections, and the outlook for the various service segments in the industry. The report integrates Rystad Energy’s well-level research for Argentina, public disclosures from oil & gas companies and service contractors active in the region, and our conversations with on-the-ground field experts.
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“There are several major bottlenecks that are currently affecting Vaca Muerta – proppant, infrastructure, labor, pressure pumping and the macro economic situation in Argentina. In addition, investments need to be made in water transportation infrastructure as drilling and completions increase within the region,” says Ryan Carbrey, Senior Vice President of Shale Research at Rystad Energy.
Vaca Muerta should see the tally of fracked wells reach between 140 and 150 this year. Only three of those wells are vertical, while all other wells are high-density horizontal completions. It is expected that fracking activity will grow at a rate of 20% per year from 2019 through 2021, reaching about 250 wells in 2021. According to Rystad Energy research, this heightened activity will generate a significant boost in Vaca Muerta oil production – from about 60,000 bpd in the third quarter of 2018 to between 160,000 and 200,000 bpd in the fourth quarter of 2021. Most of this growth will come from the liquids-rich Loma Campana portion of the play, operated by YPF.
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