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The giant Vaca Muerta formation in Argentina is one of the world’s biggest unconventional finds of the last several years. We have interests in ten blocks and are actively participating in this exceptional project, which will help drive our growth post-2020. While our first development phase will end in late 2018, we’re already studying future development scenarios consistent with our ambitions.

Bertrand Césaire

Unconventional Resources

Christiane Eygun

Societal Actions

Jean Gavalda

Unconventional Resources

Vaca Muerta - Argentina - Exploration & Production - Total

Located in the semi-desert Neuquén region, Vaca Muerta has everything you could ever ask for. The mineral composition of its organic-rich source rock lends itself to hydraulic fracturing. Its petrophysical properties are also good: the rock is more porous than the unconventional deposits of North America and comes with an extensive existing network of natural fractures.

Another big advantage is that the formation is several hundred meters thick. We’ll be able to drill two or three stacked levels, located roughly 3,000 meters below the surface. So we’re studying several development plans, targeting as many as 30 wells per pad. The wells will be directionally drilled ensuring maximum coverage of the underground rock volume. So a hundred pads would be enough on our operated blocks — Aguada Pichana Este, San Roque, Rincon La Ceniza and La Escalonada — to capture the value of all its resources, estimated at several billion barrels of oil equivalent.

This scenario meets our two requirements, namely:

  • Ensuring the development’s economic viability: Well clusters of the type being considered allow drilling and fracking on a more industrial scale. Especially since we plan to use continuous pumping techniques to bring in wells as quickly as possible.
  • Minimizing our surface facilities’ environmental impact as much as possible: Once drilling and fracking are complete, each pad’s footprint will be just 200 square meters, for a subsurface area of 14 square kilometers.


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