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Wintershall starts second pilot project in Vaca Muerta

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Oilfield Technology,

Wintershall has launched its second pilot project in the Vaca Muerta shale in Argentina. The German company said it had started drilling the first of three horizontal wells on its wholly owned Bandurria Norte block in the southwestern province of Neuquen.

“The Argentinian shale formations are very promising,” said Gustavo Albrecht, Managing Director of Wintershall Energia.

Wintershall is the latest company to launch a pilot in Vaca Muerta, as the introduction this year of tax caps, pricing incentives and measures to cut labour costs improve the potential for putting the resources into production and making a profit.

The Argentine and Neuquen governments have vowed to build and improve highways, railroads, pipelines and ports to reduce logistics costs for moving inputs into the fields and products out.

In comments to Neuquen Governor Omar Gutierrez, Wintershall executives said the Bandurria Norte pilot would cost US$120 million. Each well will be drilled for 1500 m with 15 frack stages, and the results should be available in February 2018, according to a statement by the provincial government.

Bandurria Norte is adjacent to Aguada Federal, where Wintershall launched its first pilot project in Vaca Muerta in 2015. The project involves the drilling of four horizontal wells, with the results due to be published by early 2018.

Wintershall could invest up to US$2 billion in developing Bandurria Norte’s shale resources if the results of the pilot project are positive, the Neuquen government said.

In its statement, Wintershall said the Vaca Muerta resources in the 107 km2 block are located at depths of 2700 - 3000 m.

Wintershall has been producing conventional and tight oil and natural gas in Argentina for years. The company is betting on the shale resources to help sustain production growth as conventional reserves mature.

The German company said it was also investigating the shale potential of the Aguada Pichana and San Roque blocks, both of which will target Vaca Muerta. These and its other blocks are located close to Loma Campana, the biggest source of shale oil and gas to date in the play.

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