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Argentina’s past energy imbalance is declining quickly

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Argentina has been stepping up export sales of petroleum products to Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay as its production from the Vaca Muerta oil fields surges. Output has shot up 169% year on year to 31 million cu m/d in February, pushing up total production 7.9% to 135 million cu m/d, the latest numbers from the Energy Secretariat show.

The secretariat has estimated that production could double to 260 million cu m/d in 2023, meaning that it must find new markets for additional production.

As part of this, Argentina has been lowering total gas imports, which tumbled 15.7% to 26.9 million cu m/d in the 2018 year on year. It has ended a contract for one of its two regasification terminals last year which were used for imports in the past.

With Vaca Muerta holding the world’s second-largest shale gas resources, this means neighboring Bolivia which was Argentina’s source of gas will face a steady decline in sales to one of its only two markets.

This has shifted Bolivia’s focus to exporting LNG through Argentina to make use of the pipeline infrastructure it has in place to deliver supplies there for export.

Argentina is already taking steps to export LNG for the first time. YPF, the country’s state-backed energy company, plans to start shipping 2.5 million cu m/d in the second half of this year through a FLNG, and is drawing up plans for an onshore liquefaction terminal.

As part of the agreement, Bolivia said it plans to buy oil and petroleum products from Argentina in the future, tapping into the rising output from Vaca Muerta. Argentina is on track to start exporting light crude from the fields in the second half of this year as production increases.

The output is expected to double to 1 million b/d in 2023, which will make 500,000 b/d available for export. This is very good news for a country hungry to make more USD’s.

In line with the better news, Argentina posted a first-quarter surplus of 10.347 billion pesos for 2019. A small step in the right direction.

The quarterly surplus was equivalent to 0.1% of the country’s GDP, the minister said in a presentation to reporters.


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