Argentina Launches Tender to Build New Vaca Muerta Gas Pipeline

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) — Argentina's government launched a tender on Wednesday for the construction of the first stage of a new gas pipeline from the huge Vaca Muerta shale formation.

A drilling site in the Vaca Muerta Shale. (photo: YPF)

The gas pipeline from Vaca Muerta is key to expanding network capacity and reversing a major energy deficit in the South American country, where the government is keen to boost gas exports to bring in much-needed foreign currency.

"With this, we start the process to build the most important gas transportation work in our country in four decades," Energy Secretary Darío Martínez said, adding that once finished, the pipeline could transport 44 million cubic meters of gas daily.

The tender seeks to acquire 656 kilometers (407.62 miles) of pipes for the construction of the first stage of the project.

The pipeline will start with natural gas from Treatyén, in the province of Neuquén, and will cross the provinces of Río Negro, La Pampa and Buenos Aires, until reaching Santa Fe.

The first stage of construction would take some 18 months and a public investment of about $1.6 billion to inject 24 million cubic meters more per day of gas into the network by the winter of 2023, a government source previously told to Reuters.

The tender, published in the official gazette, is being held by state firm IEASA, which manages major national energy infrastructure projects and development.

(Reporting by Agustín Geist; Editing by Nicholas Misculin and Marguerita Choy)

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