YPF unveils plan to invest 35bn dollars in five years with the help from partners

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Posted / Last update: 08-06-2012
Argentina's state-controlled energy company YPF will need to invest 35 billion dollars to boost falling natural gas and oil output by more than a quarter by 2017, the new chief executive said on this week in Buenos Aires

President Cristina Fernandez seized control of YPF from Repsol in April, accusing the Spanish oil major of investing too little and making the country increasingly reliant on pricey imports. Chief Executive Miguel Galuccio, a former executive at global oilfield services giant Schlumberger Ltd, said YPF plans to reverse Argentina’s energy deficit would require an annual investment of 7billion from 2013 through 2017.

Most of that would come from the company's own resources, he said as he outlined plans to reverse dwindling production at mature fields and start tapping the country's world-class Vaca Muerta shale resource. ”We need to be realistic. Although I'd like to be able to double the production of (natural) gas and fuel overnight, I'm not a magician. In this industry, every extra barrel requires investment, technology and above all, hard work,“ he said.

”YPF needs to recover its leadership and vision in the country“ he said in a speech to launch the corporate plan, vowing to make the company ”professional and competitive. We need to redefine the company’s DNA,” since YPF reservoir projections decreased from 11 to 7 years” due to a significant operations drop while it was under the Repsol management.

Galuccio said 1,000 wells would be drilled next year - a level not reached by the company since 1996 - as the company aims to push up annual energy production by 6% each year starting this year. That would represent a 26% increase by 2017 to reach 216 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe).

YPF, which registered a net profit in 2011 of 5.3 billion Pesos (1.1 billion dollars), did not give more details about how it would be able to meet the estimate of required investment. “We're going to have to go out and look for partners. For that reason, we're designing business models that allow us to accommodate different types of partners” Galuccio said.

Soon before Cristina Fernandez announced the YPF takeover, Repsol said it would cost 25 billion dollars a year to develop the world-class shale find that has drawn interest from international oil companies despite jitters about the investment climate.

Argentina remains shut out of global credit markets a decade after staging the biggest sovereign debt default in history. Analysts say that means YPF chances of stepping up production and developing the Vaca Muerta shale resource may hinge on its success in luring deep-pocketed partners.

The exploitation of just 15% of the Vaca Muerta haul would cover the country's energy deficit, which forced the import of 9.3bn dollars in fuels last year.

Galuccio said two pilot studies would be carried out at the site next year to drill 132 shale oil wells and 14 natural gas wells with an estimated investment of 1.36 billion. If the drills proved successful, YPF would aim to develop a “production cluster” on part of Vaca Muerta, in the Patagonian province of Neuquen.

“That could generate total production of 550 million boe. That's similar to YPF total proven reserves,” Galuccio added. Hydrocarbons output has been in decline for years in the region’s number three economy: crude production fell 5.9% and natural gas output slipped 3.4% last year as power demand rose 5.1%, according to data from the Argentine Institute of Petroleum and Gas.

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