Bloomberg News

Repsol’s Argentine Unit Finds 927 Million Barrels of Shale Oil

November 15, 2011

Nov. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Repsol YPF SA, Spain’s largest oil company, said its Argentine YPF SA unit discovered about 927 million barrels equivalent of shale oil at the Loma La Lata field in northern Patagonia, its biggest ever find.

YPF, in which Madrid-based Repsol owns a 57 percent stake, confirmed the size of the discovery after producing between 200 and 600 barrels a day of high-quality shale oil from 15 wells at the field, YPF said in a statement sent late yesterday. In May, the company had said the find was about 150 million barrels.

Buenos Aires-based YPF, which produces more than 50 percent of Argentina’s crude, is boosting exploration to arrest a decline in output and last year had a 100 percent annual oil reserve-replacement ratio for the first time in 13 years. The company, led by Chief Executive Officer Sebastian Eskenazi, made its largest oil find in Argentina after drilling a dry hole off the disputed Falkland Islands earlier this year.

The new probable reserves in Patagonia are contained in an area of 428 square kilometers in Loma La Lata, more than 1200 kilometers (746 miles) southwest of Buenos Aires. The discovery announced in May boosted Argentina’s total reserves by about 6 percent, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner had said.

At present, YPF has total oil reserves of about 531 million barrels. The find announced yesterday is located at the Vaca Muerta formation at Loma La Lata.

Repsol gained 24 cents, or 1.2 percent, to 20.91 euros in Madrid yesterday and rose 5 percent in the past year. YPF’s American Depositary Receipts rose 23 cents to $31.72 as of 4:15 p.m. yesterday in New York after earlier gaining 2.6 percent.

Vaca Muerta Formation

YPF controls about 12,000 square kilometers of the Vaca Muerta formation, which has a total surface of 30,000. Other companies that are seeking to produce shale oil and gas in Neuquen province include Apache Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp., Americas Petrogas Inc., Total SA and Madalena Ventures Inc.

So-called unconventional shale formations are more costly to develop than traditional wells, requiring the extraction of oil or gas trapped in shale rocks. Argentina has the world’s third largest probable reserves of shale oil, behind the U.S. and China, the U.S. Energy Information Administration has said.

YPF in December 2010 announced the discovery of 4.5 trillion cubic feet of shale gas in Neuquen province.

--Editors: Dale Crofts, Robin Saponar

To contact the reporter on this story: Rodrigo Orihuela in Buenos Aires at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dale Crofts at

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