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Trafigura outlines Argentina refinery site projects

Bnamericas Published: Friday, November 25, 2022

Commodity trader Trafigura confirmed to BNamericas oil processing and handling projects at Bahía Blanca in Argentine province Buenos Aires.

The confirmation came after local media outlet EconoJournal, citing market sources, reported that the company would build an oil storage and export terminal there. Associated outlay is US$100mn and work is due to finish by mid-2024, EconoJournal said.

Trafigura controls the Ricardo Eliçabe refinery complex at Bahía Blanca, a hydrocarbons import-export hub. 

“As part of the company’s investment plan in Argentina, there are several projects being developed at our Bahía Blanca refinery to increase capacity and operational and logistical flexibility,” a Trafigura spokesperson told BNamericas. “This includes a new pre-flash tower to improve the processing of crude oil; a new, additional electrical co-generation unit, and an expansion of storage capacity and logistics through the construction of two oil storage tanks.”

Trafigura acquired the refinery, among other downstream assets, from local player Pampa Energía in 2018.

Last month upstream firm Vista Energy Argentina announced a new Vaca Muerta production investment and oil offtake deal with Trafigura. Under the offtake component, extending an existing agreement, Vista will sell Trafigura 380,000b/m in 1H23 and 345,000b/m in 2H23. 

Oil output from the Vaca Muerta unconventional hydrocarbons formation has been growing apace, straining existing infrastructure. Upstream firms are planning to continue ramping up production as midstream players execute expansion projects, chief among them a doubling of pipeline capacity between the Neuquén basin – home to the bulk of Vaca Muerta – and Bahía Blanca. 

Pipeline and storage investment, along with strong international market prices, is whetting the appetites of upstream firms. Argentina’s hydrocarbons production outlook is chiefly linked to the development of above-ground infrastructure to process and dispatch output. 

The country’s biggest province by production, Neuquén, said exports totaled 2.6Mb (million barrels), or 30% of its output, in September. Neuquén’s overseas sales resulted in revenue of about US$220mn, with the average price of US$85/b, higher than realized prices obtained in the domestic market, of about US$65/b.   

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