Only two years ago analysts were hailing Argentina’s emerging shale oil boom, which many believed would be the next major petroleum frontier in Latin America. The vast Vaca Muerta, or Dead Cow in English, shale formation, which skirts Argentina’s semi-arid Patagonian steppe, is compared to the smaller prolific Permian shale. The EIA estimates that the formation has technically recoverable resources of 16 billion barrels of oil and 308 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The Vaca Muerta is an enormous resource, ranked as the world’s second-largest gas shale deposit. If executed appropriately, its tremendous hydrocarbon wealth will address many of Argentina’s deep-seated economic ills. By 2011, the exploitation of the Vaca Muerta had become a top priority for Argentina’s fiscally challenged government. During 2012 President Cristina Fernandez’s administration seized a majority stake of YPF, Argentina’s largest oil producer, from Spanish integrated energy major Repsol. The rationale for the nationalization […]