Norwegian oil and gas firm Statoil has bagged exploration rights of the Bajo del Toro Este licence in Argentina’s Neuquén basin.

The onshore licence was won by Statoil during Argentina’s Gas y Petróleo del Neuquén’s (GyP) 5th bidding round which included five other new hydrocarbon areas in the province of in the province of Neuquén.

Statoil will be the operator of the onshore block with a working interest of 90% while the remaining 10% will be retained by GyP, which is the Neuquén province state-owned oil and gas company.

The new licence acquired by Statoil is spread over an area of over 133km2 and is located in western part of Argentina.

Statoil plans to drill one exploration well within the four-year exploration period, which comes into effect from 2018.

Statoil exploration executive vice president Tim Dodson said: “With the Bajo del Toro Este licence award we are building our light oil position in a world-class unconventional resource play, the Vaca Muerta Formation.

 “With increased ownership interests, and Statoil now becoming an operator, we are positioned to test the extent of the play and optimise with respect to materiality. We will also leverage our US onshore experience.”

The Bajo del Toro Este block borders the Bajo del Toro block to the west where Statoil is partnering Argentine energy company YPF to jointly explore hydrocarbons in the Vaca Muerta Formation.

Statoil in an agreement made in late August, entered the Bajo del Toro exploration permit with a 50% stake. The operator of the block is YPF which holds a stake of 50%.

The Norwegian state-owned firm stated that the opportunities at the two onshore Argentine blocks are in line with its sharpened strategy. Further, it added that the blocks are aligned with its exploration strategy of producing profitable, high-quality resources.

Image: Licence award ceremony at GyP’s 5th bidding round. Photo: courtesy of GyP.