Drilling Down

McClendon’s Company to Develop Argentina Basin

BUENOS AIRES – Billionaire wildcatter Aubrey K. McClendon and his company, American Energy Partners LP, have entered a $500 million joint venture with Argentine oil and gas giant YPF to explore reserves in the Vaca Muerta formation in the Neuquen Basin in Argentina, YPF announced today.

McClendon, the former chairman and CEO of Chesapeake Energy Corp., signed initial agreements with Miguel Galuccio, president and CEO YPF Thursday.

The plan, which calls for $500 million in investments over the next three years, has been presented to Argentina’s Minister of Energy, according to the announcement.

One project consists of launching a shale oil and gas development pilot in the Bajada de Añelo block, covering approximately 55,500 acres. After this first stage is completed by mid-2018, the project would enter into the full field development phase. In addition, YPF and an affiliate of AELP, in partnership with Pluspetrol and Gas y Petróleo de Neuquén, plan to launch a second project to delineate shale gas resources in the southern portion of the Cerro Arena block, covering approximately 92,600 acres, the companies said.

Under the agreements, American Energy Partners would hold up to 50% participating interest in the blocks.

“YPF is welcoming a partner that will contribute expertise of the highest level to develop shale oil and gas in our country. We believe that this partnership will be very enriching for our company by allowing YPF to accelerate the learning curve,” Galuccio said after the signing.

“We are thrilled and very honored with the opportunity to partner with YPF in Argentina to further develop the Vaca Muerta shale formation, a world-class unconventional play with tremendous potential. Through our partnership with YPF, we intend to bring U.S- style shale drilling and operating expertise, completion techniques, and cost structure to the Vaca Muerta, which we believe will prove transformative for the play,” McClendon said.

As CEO of Chesapeake, McClendon was one of the early shale pioneers in eastern Ohio’s Utica. He was forced out in 2013 after shareholders questioned $1 billion in personal loans that were secured from firms that were also lenders to Chesapeake.

McClendon formed American Energy shortly after leaving Chesapeake. The company has since staked out positions in the Utica.

During the next three months, the companies will negotiate definitive agreements that will enable joint operations to begin this year.

McClendon founded Chesapeake in 1989 in Oklahoma City as a startup and expanded to the second-largest natural gas producer in the country.

YPF and its partners have invested more than $3 billion to develop unconventional gas and oil within the country, positioning YFP as the leading Argentine producer of unconventional shale plays in the country, the company said.

Other companies active in the Vaca Muerta shale include Chevron, Dow, and Petronas.

Pictured: Aubrey McClendon.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.