Argentina closed out 2022 with oil production at record levels, boosted in particular by the performance of Vaca Muerta, a gigantic field of shale deposits located in Patagonia.
Energy Secretary Flavia Royón said at a press conference this week that the country “closed 2022 with the highest oil production in history” in relation to the volume of unconventional oil, which reached a daily 282,000 barrels in December, a historic peak.
As detailed by the Energy Department in a further statement, the total production of unconventional crude oil increased by 32.9 percent last December as against the same month of the previous year, an advance largely driven by the performance of Vaca Muerta, a gigantic field of shale deposits located in Patagonia.
Last month’s oil numbers express the sustained increase of activity. A December daily production of 622,500 barrels represents the highest total since 2009 and up 0.8 percent from November with a year-on-year increase of 11.2 percent from the previous December.
The striking feature of that total is the escalation of shale oil, contributing 282,400 barrels daily and marking a new historic record.
The volume of unconventional oil was thus 2.1 percent up on the previous month with an increase of 32.9 percent from the production of the last month of 2021.
“Every month we went raising the bar and breaking records for the production of unconventional oil throughout the year and December was no exception. [Economy] Minister Sergio Massa and I are convinced that the soaring volumes of [unconventional] oil boost the value chain, creating more genuine jobs and inflow of hard currency for the country,” enthused Royón.
These numbers reflect the consolidation of the contribution of unconventional production to overall fossil fuel activity in Argentina, representing 45 percent of total oil production.
Vaca Muerta takes off
Within that contribution, activity at Vaca Muerta continued to climb with a daily 276,500 barrels in December – 2.3 percent up on last November and 33.9 percent more than December 2021.Between the productivity of Vaca Muerta and higher international prices, Argentina doubled the value of its oil exports last year from 2021, according to the latest trade figures from the INDEC national statistics bureau.
The government is seeking to boost the development of Vaca Muerta with the construction of a new gas pipeline to substitute some of the country’s fuel imports and increase energy exports to the region. Massa has declared that the country will turn around last year’s trade deficit of US$5 billion in the energy sector to a surplus of some US$12 billion by 2025.