June 12, 2019 / 10:44 PM / 6 days ago

Argentine president says Vaca Muerta gas pipeline tender to be launched in July

BUENOS AIRES, June 12 (Reuters) - Argentina will launch a tender process for a major pipeline servicing the emerging Vaca Muerta shale play in July, President Mauricio Macri said on Wednesday, a move that will be key to establishing steady gas exports.

In March, Argentine Energy Secretary Gustavo Lopetegui said the pipeline would transport up to 22 million cubic meters of gas per day and predicted that the tender would be launched in April, though the process has been delayed.

“We need this pipeline, which will be tendered in July,” Macri said at a forum in Neuquen, the capital of a province of the same name where Vaca Muerta is located.

Vaca Muerta, which is roughly the size of Belgium, is one of the world’s largest onshore oil and gas plays, though it is still in the early stages of development.

Macri, who faces a re-election battle in October, sees Vaca Muerta as an opportunity to wean Argentina off natural gas imports and eventually become an important exporter. Earlier in June, state energy firm YPF SA made the first export shipment of liquefied natural gas from Vaca Muerta.

Reporting by Eliana Raszewski Writing by Gram Slattery Editing by Rosalba O'Brien

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