Argentina - Country Commercial Guide
Energy - Oil & Gas

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2022-08-04

Argentina’s energy sector regulatory framework seeks to provide greater market certainty and attracting more foreign investment to boost oil and gas production for exports. Given its broader economic challenges, the Argentine government at the federal and provincial levels are playing a larger role in critical industries of the economy, such as energy, mining, and transportation. The Argentine government wishes to see the energy sector become a major driver of exports and increase foreign exchange liquidity, as well as attracting foreign direct investment leading to economic growth.

Argentina possesses the world’s fourth-largest shale oil and second-largest shale gas reserves. The Vaca Muerta shale formation is located in the provinces of Neuquén, Mendoza, and Rio Negro, and only a fraction has been developed for oil and gas production. Vaca Muerta’s shale quality, production incentives, tax exemptions, and negotiated labor concessions have contributed to lowering operational costs and increase efficiencies. Investments have slowed as a result of the pandemic as well as policy uncertainties that include foreign exchange controls that hinder repatriation of dividends. Major global exploration companies including Chevron, ExxonMobil, Petronas, Shell, and Total are present along with many local firms. Argentina’s majority state-owned energy company, YPF, holds the largest upstream sector market share. Industry reports a continued need for small-and-medium-sized service companies with shale expertise to enter the market in order to further improve efficiency and lower costs. The U.S.-based Energy Workforce & Technology Council holds an Argentina chapter that supports market entrance of new U.S. players.

The province of Neuquén, home to the largest portion of the Vaca Muerta formation, continues to be a key driver of industry growth, and will potentially enable Argentina to become a regional game changer in the next decade. The total production of unconventional oil and gas increased ~52 percent and ~33 percent year-on-year, respectively.

The Government of Argentina launched “Plan GasAr,” which is a natural gas plan to increase local production, reduce gas imports, and provides a framework that ensures access to foreign exchange and government support for increased production.

Natural gas represents about 52 percent of Argentina’s primary energy source, and although it features one of the world’s largest shale gas deposits, it relies on liquified natural gas (LNG) imports to meet domestic demand.  

U.S. state-of-the-art technologies and know-how could be instrumental in bringing Argentina’s energy market to the next level.

Argentina’s National Congress is currently reviewing a hydrocarbon bill, (which is based on a hydrocarbon investment promotion regime that is posed to provide the industry with a long-term tax and fiscal stability outlook), at provincial and municipal levels. Further, the bill is expected to stimulate incremental oil and gas production for domestic and international markets, promote production continuity of mature wells through secondary and tertiary recovery, which represent approximately 80 percent of the country’s conventional hydrocarbon production, and secure access to foreign exchange.


For additional information, including market analysis, trade events, contacts, and the products and services that the U.S. Commercial Service can provide to help you succeed in the Argentine market, please contact Marcelo Amden, Industry Specialist