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Argentina watch: Oil concessions, biofuel exports, acreage transfer

Bnamericas Published: Tuesday, September 06, 2022

Argentine President Alberto Fernández delegated to federal energy chief Flavia Royón the authority to extend midstream oil infrastructure concessions by 10 years.

Midstream firms planning major investments geared to the export market – pipeline operator Oldelval and storage player Oiltanking – have requested such extensions.

A decree published in the official gazette refers to concessions for ducts feeding into the Río Negro hydrocarbons town of Allen, for the oil pipeline between Allen and Puerto Rosales in Buenos Aires province and for the Puerto Rosales storage and export terminal.

Last month, economy minister Sergio Massa said the government would sign the extensions.

Oldelval is aiming to start work on a US$750mn oil pipeline project in the second half of this year. The duct will run between Allen and Puerto Rosales, allowing Oldeval transport capacity between the two locations to double to 72,000m3/d, over two phases.

Owned by upstream firms, Oldelval transports 100% of crude from the fast-growing Vaca Muerta play, the equivalent of over 50% of national oil output and 90% of production from the Neuquén basin.

By easing a basin dispatch bottleneck, pipeline construction work would support growth in output by local oil firms keen on tapping the lucrative export market.

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Massa set an official exchange rate of 200 pesos to the dollar for various soy and soy derivative exports, including biodiesel.

The Argentine peso was trading at 140 to the dollar on Monday afternoon. 

Companies that have exported in the prior 18 months can access the regime, according to a decree.

The decree establishes an export promotion program, known as Incremento Exportador. The program will be temporary, it indicates. 

Argentina’s biodiesel exporters are shipping around US$100mn a month of the fuel to Europe, local media outlet EconoJournal reported. 

In 2017, the US launched a probe into imports of Argentine biodiesel. Antidumping duties were introduced, effectively locking the South American country out of the key US market and halting a flow of much-needed dollars. 

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Río Negro province authorized Aconcagua Energía to cede its 100% stake in hydrocarbons block Tres Nidos to Petrolera San Miguel, a firm that already operates in Salta province.

In a regulatory filing, Aconcagua said the move was in line with a portfolio review and diversification strategy which involves focusing “studies and activities” in Río Negro areas Loma Guadalosa, Catriel Viejo and Catriel Oeste.

Records dating back to 2009 show oil production spiked at 3.9m3/d in September of that year. Oil production at the block stopped in July 2014.

Aconcagua recently sold to Crown Point Energía 50% of its rights and obligations in the Puesto Pozo Cercado Oriental concession in Mendoza province. At the time, Aconcagua said the sale would permit it to accelerate growth and achieve objectives under its strategy. These include increasing consolidated production to over 3,000boe/d, tripling in size its thermoelectric generation park to over 6MW in 2022, scalable to 10MW in 2023, and supporting solar PV projects in Mendoza and Río Negro provinces.

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