Argentina's Vaca Muerta Injects Record Gas as New Pipeline Boosts Capacity

(Reuters) — Argentina's southern Neuquen province, home to the huge Vaca Muerta shale formation, has posted a record daily amount of gas being injected into the country's pipeline system, topping 100 million cubic meters per day, the government said on Wednesday.

The shale region, thought to be the world's second largest shale gas reserve and fourth-largest for shale oil, is benefiting from a major new pipeline that has expanded the amount of gas that can be transported from the formation.

Argentina's government is making a major bet on Vaca Muerta, hoping increased domestic production and transport capacity can overturn a $4.5 billion energy deficit from last year, helping the indebted country save its scarce foreign currency reserves.

The country inaugurated the first stage last month of a major new gas pipeline linking the formation with the capital Buenos Aires, a 570-km (354-mile) section that adds a capacity of 22 million cubic meters per day.

"We continue on this upward path of production, which makes us very happy because it not only means more work and growth for our province, but also greater economic independence for the country," Neuquen's governor Omar Gutierrez said.

The daily amount of gas transported from the province in recent days is almost 8 million cubic meters more than July average, the energy secretariat said in a statement. It was not clear over what period the higher output had been maintained.

Argentina recently launched a tender for new works on another new pipeline designed to transport Vaca Muerta gas production to the north of the country.

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