Vaca Muerta Producing at Record Levels
Argentina’s Vaca Muerta formation reached a record high oil production of 124,000 barrels per day (bpd) in December 2020, a Rystad Energy report has revealed.
If current activity levels continue, the reserve’s oil output can climb towards the 145,000 bpd – 150,000 bpd range by the end of the year, according to Rystad, which highlighted that the site’s previous oil production record of 123,000 bpd was reached in March 2020.
Contrary to oil production, Vaca Muerta’s gas output kept declining through the fourth quarter due to lower seasonal consumption, Rystad noted. Gross gas production fell below 900 million cubic feet per day (MMcfd) in December for the first time since October 2018.
“While well activity in the gas zone of Vaca Muerta remained depressed in the final three months of last year, with literally zero gas wells put on production, oil POPs rebounded sharply in November and December, pushing the new oil well count to an average of about 11 wells per month,” Artem Abramov, Rystad Energy’s head of shale research, said in a company statement.
As of December 2020, YPF is yet to return to its pre-Covid-19 Vaca Muerta oil production record, according to Rystad, which noted that the play’s recovery was mainly driven by producers with aggressive capital programs planned for 2020. Rystad highlighted that Vista produced 15,000 bpd of oil and Shell produced at 13,000 bpd in December, which it noted should be viewed as new all-time highs from the basin for both operators.
According to YPF’s website, Vaca Muerta is a geological formation of 11,583 square miles located mainly in the province of Neuquén, which contains oil and gas found at a depth of more than 8,200 feet. YPF notes that the relevance of Vaca Muerta is so significant that the development of only a small part of the formation could cover Argentina’s energy deficit.
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