KASSEL, Germany, May 21 (UPI) -- German energy company Wintershall announced Monday it secured an exploration permit for shale oil and natural gas acreage in Argentina.
Wintershall Energia, a subsidiary of the German company, takes a 50 percent stake alongside a division of Total in a 500-acre site in Mendoza province in Argentina.
The German company said it's been conducting seismic work and geological mapping of the area, known as Ranquil Norte, since 2002.
"These evaluations indicate that the Ranquil Norte block has potential to explore and develop conventional and unconventional reservoirs [of shale gas and shale oil]," the company said in a statement.
The company in March acquired an exploration permit for an adjacent 23,000-acre site.
Wintershall gave no indication of the expected reserve potential for the region. Argentina is the largest consumer and producer of natural gas in South America.
The U.S. Energy Department's Energy Information Administration estimates that Argentina has 774 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable shale gas resources, the third most in the world. Argentine energy company YPF announced the recent discovery of 150 million barrels worth of shale oil.