The Vaca Muerta Formation underlies much of the Argentinian Neuquén Basin, which contains a near-continuous Upper Triassic-Lower Cenozoic succession covering about 100,000 km2 with a total sedimentary thickness of over 7 km.
The 1st oil field in the basin was discovered in 1918.
The basin is estimated to contain approximately 14.4 Bboe of conventional resources with potential for more resources.
The megaproject entails extraction from the area’s enormous shale oil & gas reserves, as well as building associated infrastructure such as pipelines and LNG terminals.
The deposit extends over 30,000 sq. km and represents 43% of Argentina's total oil production and 60% of its gas production.
The field consists of various blocks owned and operated by YPF, Argentina’s state-owned oil & gas company.
McDermott received a contract for providing pre-front-end engineering design (Pre-FEED) services for the Vaca Muerta LNG facility development from YPF in July 2019.
In Vaca Muerta, a portion of production has recently switched to oil, boosting output to 124,000 barrels per day (bpd) in December 2020 after having stalled during the year, as companies revved up wells with an eye on a recovery in prices.
YPF said in 2021 that it plans to invest more than $1.5 billion to ramp up oil & natural gas production in the Vaca Muerta shale play.
Fracking in Vaca Muerta could be Argentina's ticket out of economic crisis.
But taking that route will make it much harder to cut emissions 19% from 2007 levels by the end of the decade, its target under the Paris Agreement.