BUENOS AIRES – Argentine state-controlled energy company YPF has signed a preliminary agreement with U.S.-based American Energy Partners LP to explore and develop two areas of the massive Vaca Muerta shale formation, a project that will require an investment outlay of $500 million over the next three years.
The Argentine company said in a statement that Aubrey McClendon, Oklahoma City-based AELP’s chief executive officer and a prominent U.S. shale developer, and YPF CEO Miguel Galuccio presented the details of the joint venture deal to Energy Minister Juan Jose Aranguren on Thursday.
The plan involves launching “a shale gas pilot at the Bajada de Añelo block,” which covers a 200-sq.-kilometer (77-sq.-mile) area in the southwestern province of Neuquen, YPF said.
“After this first stage, which will conclude in mid-2018, plans call for the project to continue in a massive development phase,” the statement added.
The two companies also will partner with Pluspetrol and Gas y Petroleo del Neuquen on an exploration project in the southern part of the Cerro block, which encompasses a 375-sq.-kilometer (145-sq.-mile) area of that same province.
“Through these agreements, an AELP unit would acquire an up to 50 percent stake in those blocks,” YPF said.
The preliminary agreement was signed Thursday at YPF’s offices, and “over the next three months the parties will negotiate the definitive accords with a view to launching joint operations in Bajada de Añelo and Cerro Arena Sur during 2016,” the Argentine company said.