Exploration Analysis

With the election of Carlos Menem to the presidency of Argentina in 1989, the country embarked upon a drive toward free market economic reform and privatization. As a result of the many changes implemented by Menem’s administration, and most notably due to the fact that existing fields and related reserves within exploration blocks have been offered for tender acquisition from Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales (the state oil company), Argentina is attracting considerable foreign investment to its petroleum sector.

In the mid-1990’s, Argentina was aggressively pursuing policies targeting a 50% increase in production over 1992 levels, to approximately 750,000 BOPD by the end of the century, and striving to export up to 200,000 BOPD of this total. As of January, 1993, Argentina’s estimated proven oil reserves were 1.57 billion barrels, unchanged from the previous year, yielding a nine year reserves life index. The country’s 13 refineries have a peak refining capacity of 709,000 BOPD.

Argentina currently (1994) produces 2.2 BCFG/d, and imports 240 MMCFG/d from Bolivia. Proven reserves are estimated to be 26 TCF, which at current production levels offer a 32 year reserves life index. As a consequence of Argentina’s strong gas reserves base, there is an incentive to increase domestic gas utilization, and thereby free up additional oil for export.

Argentina has 29 sedimentary basins covering approximately 1,750,000 km2, an area comparable to the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin. Hydrocarbon prospectivity is ranked as good within the productive basins, and fair to good within non-productive basins.

The Neuquen and Cuyo Basins are regarded as mature producing areas, but considerable new exploration potential could exist in the Subandean thrust-fold belt along the western margin of both basins, based on the recent giant Cusiana discovery in Colombia. With the exception of the thrust-fold play, most major structural traps have been tested in both basins. However, stratigraphic traps remain largely unexplored, and could yield smaller discoveries, up to 50 million barrels.

The eastern portion of the San Jorge Gulf Basin is somewhat mature. However, moderate drilling densities and sub-commercial discoveries on the western platform and in the offshore extension of the basin suggest the area has some remaining prospectivity.

Both the Malvinas (offshore) and Austral basins have very good to excellent hydrocarbon potential. In the northwest portion of the Austral Basin, YPF has a series of oil and gas discoveries of unknown size. Although exploration in the Malvinas Basin has been hampered by both territorial disputes with the U.K. over the Falkland/Malvinas Islands and the severe climate, the hydrocarbon potential of the large continental shelf area surrounding the islands is ranked as very good to excellent. The relatively unexplored Northwest Basin is largely gas-prone, and has the potential to yield significant hydrocarbon discoveries.

For more information contact:

Leslie Sears
Petrel Robertson Consulting Ltd.
500, 736- 8th Avenue S.W.
Calgary, Alberta
T2P 1H4

Phone: (403) 218-1618
Fax: (403) 262-9135

This summary, part of Petrel Robertson’s 1995 summary of exploration and development opportunities in 31 countries around the world, has not been updated. Some of the information, particularly relating to political and economic issues, is thus out of date. It is included, however, to demonstrate the breadth and depth of Petrel’s work in each of these nations.

Copyright © 2014 Petrel Robertson Consulting Ltd.