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Repsol’s Argentine Oil Find Is Company’s Biggest

08 Nov 2011

Repsol YPF SA (REP), Spain’s largest oil company, rose the most in six-weeks in Madrid trading after its Argentine YPF SA (YPF) unit made its biggest ever find at a shale oil field in Patagonia.

YPF, in which Madrid-based Repsol owns a 57 percent stake, said yesterday well tests showed the Loma La Lata field holds about 927 million barrels In May, it had said the find was about 150 million barrels.

Repsol rose as much as 1.23 euros, or 5.9 percent, to 22.13 euros a share in Madrid, the biggest gain since Sept. 27. The shares traded at 22.05 at 1:51 p.m. local time.

YPF, which produces more than 50 percent of Argentina’s crude, is boosting exploration to arrest a decline in output and last year had a 100 percent annual oil reserve-replacement ratio for the first time in 13 years. The Buenos Aires-based company, led by Chief Executive Officer Sebastian Eskenazi, made its largest oil find in Argentina, after drilling a dry hole off the disputed Falkland Islands earlier this year.

The field will roughly double YPF reserves and helps cement Argentina’s ranking as having the world’s third-largest probable reserves of shale oil, behind the U.S. and China, based on U.S. Energy Information Administration data.

So-called unconventional shale formations are more costly to develop than traditional wells, requiring the extraction of oil or gas trapped in shale rocks.

Shares May Gain

The new probable reserves in Patagonia are contained in an area of 428 square kilometers in Loma La Lata, more than 1,200 kilometers (746 miles) southwest of Buenos Aires. The discovery announced in May boosted Argentina’s total reserves by about 6 percent, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner had said.

At present, YPF has total oil reserves of about 531 million barrels. The find announced yesterday is located at the Vaca Muerta formation at Loma La Lata.

YPF controls about 12,000 square kilometers of the Vaca Muerta formation, which has a total surface of 30,000. Other companies that are seeking to produce shale oil and gas in Neuquen province include Apache Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp., Americas Petrogas Inc., Total SA and Madalena Ventures Inc.

YPF in December 2010 announced the discovery of 4.5 trillion cubic feet of shale gas in Neuquen province.