(MENAFN - The Peninsula) By Mohammad Shoeb I The Peninsula
DOHA: Qatar Petroleum (QP) yesterday signed an agreement with ExxonMobil to become a 30 percent equity holder in two ExxonMobil affiliates in Argentina that hold different interests in hydrocarbon licenses for seven blocks in the world-class Vaca Muerta play in the onshore Neuquénbasin in Argentina.
The agreements were signed by Saad Sherida Al Kaabi, President & CEO of QP, and Andrew P Swiger, Senior Vice-President and Principal Financial Officer of ExxonMobil Corporation.
Upon closing, the signed agreements will give Qatar Petroleum a 30 percent shareholding in two ExxonMobil local affiliates in Argentina, namely, ExxonMobil Exploration Argentina S.R.L. and Mobil Argentina S.A., which hold rights with other partners for seven blocks under unconventional exploration licenses with active drilling plans as well as exploitation licenses with pilot drilling and production.
Speaking at a press conference held on this occasion, Al Kaabi said: 'We are pleased to enter into this agreement with our long-time partner ExxonMobil, and to participate in the further development of the VacaMuerta unconventional resource 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, President & CEO of QP, added: ' We look forward to working with ExxonMobil to leverage our combined world class capabilities to unlock the potential of these assets for the benefit of all stakeholders.
'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. It goes hand in hand with the planned expansion of our local production from the North Field, which will further boost Qatar's leading global position by raising its LNG production from 77 million to 100 million tonnes per year; and with the recently announced Petrochemicals Complex project, which includes the largest ethane cracker in the Middle East, and one of the largest in the world.
Al Kaabi, in his concluding remarks, said: 'As we approach the first anniversary of the unjust blockade against the State of Qatar, I would like to stress that our oil and gas sector has not been impacted by the blockade, nor has our previously planned expansion. I also would like to reaffirm our commitment to making Qatar Petroleum one of the best national oil and gas companies in the world, and to continue our role to support and strengthen Qatar's economy. Finally, I would like to thank the Amir HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani for unlimited support and guidance to the energy sector; I would also like to thank all my oil and gas sector colleagues for their great effort, dedication, and commitment.
On his part, Andrew Swiger said: 'This agreement builds on our long-standing and successful partnership with Qatar Petroleum, and underscores our commitment to develop Argentina's resources to further support domestic production of oil and natural gas. The VacaMuerta shale in the Neuquénprovince in western Argentina is considered among the most prospective unconventional shale oil/gas plays outside North America.
Activity in the basin has picked up recently, mainly due to governmental incentives and rising domestic energy demand. A number of international operators have established presence in the basin and announced ambitious investment plans.
ExxonMobil's wholly owned subsidiary, XTO Energy, which is among the world leaders in unconventional oil and gas operations, is providing operational support to the two concerned ExxonMobil affiliates in Argentina, including developing detailed appraisal and development plans for these assets, based on recently drilled wells and pilot production testing. In addition, the implementation of leading technologies will be a priority for the partners in order to maximize the value to all stakeholders, while preserving the highest safety standards and reducing operating costs.