Equinor and its partner Shell have acquired 49% interest in the Bandurria Sur block in Neuquén, Argentina, from oilfield services firm Schlumberger.

As per the terms of the deal, Equinor and Shell have each made a payment of $177.5m to Schlumberger to acquire a 24.5% interest each in the block.

The sale includes all of Schlumberger’s stakes in the Bandurria Sur shale oil block, which covers around 56,000 gross acres in the central area of the Vaca Muerta play.

Schlumberger CEO Olivier Le Peuch said: “The monetisation of our Bandurria Sur interest is an important milestone in Schlumberger’s strategy.

“It has been a privilege working in partnership with YPF on the pilot phase of this world-class unconventional resource.”

Operated by Argentine energy firm YPF with 51% interest, the block currently is in the late pilot development phase with a current production capacity of approximately 10,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe/d).

YPF to operate the Bandurria Sur Block with 40% stake

Separately, Equinor and Shell also signed a preliminary agreement to acquire a further 11% interest from YPF.

Upon completion of the deal, Equinor and Shell will each own a 30% non-operated interest. YPF will continue to be the operator of the block with 40% stake.

The additional transaction, however, is subject to receipt of approvals from relevant authorities.

Equinor Argentina country manager Nidia Álvarez Crogh said: “We are very pleased to partner with Shell in the Bandurria Sur block, an asset in an area with significant potential, and to further develop our close partnership with YPF, with whom we are already exploring several onshore, offshore and renewable opportunities in Argentina.

“We are broadening our activities in Argentina in support of our strategy to build international growth options.”

In August 2019, Equinor and YPF agreed to jointly explore the CAN 100 offshore block in the North Argentina Basin.

Considered to be the largest block in the North Argentinian Basin, the CAN 100 block comprises an area of 15,000km².