June 4 (UPI) -- Buying an equity stake in the Vaca Muerta shale natural gas basin in Argentina marks a debut in unconventional resources, Qatar Petroleum announced.
The state-owned petroleum company in Qatar said it reached an agreement with U.S. supermajor Exxon Mobil to take a 30 percent stake in its operations in Argentina. The arrangement gives Qatar Petroleum access to the Vaca Muerta shale basin, located onshore in the Neuquén basin in Argentina.
"This is an important milestone, as it marks Qatar Petroleum's first investment in Argentina as well as its first significant international investment in unconventional oil and gas resources," Saad Sherida al-Kaabi, the company's president and CEO, said in a statement Sunday.
Vaca Muerta is considered one of the best shale basins in Latin America. All told, the basin contains about 16 million barrels of oil and 308 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Vaca Muerta has already drawn in some of the biggest energy companies in the world. Norwegian energy company Statoil expanded its footprint in November and French supermajor Total suggested last year it had the revenue stream necessary to move forward with the development of the Vaca Muerta shale.
RBC Capital Markets estimates shale reservoirs in Argentina may have development costs that are considerably higher than their U.S. counterparts, but higher productivity could offset some of the expense.
Qatar is the second-largest exporter of liquefied natural gas in the world, behind Australia. Qatar Petroleum's CEO said the Argentinean agreement adds momentum behind plans to boost LNG production by about 30 percent.
"This agreement is an important milestone on the road to expanding our international footprint, which is an important part of Qatar Petroleum's growth strategy," he said.
Exxon had no statement on the agreement.