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Dow To Produce Shale Gas In Argentina

Petrochemicals: Partnered with oil producer YPF, the firms has plans to develop shale gas production in the country

by Alexander H. Tullo
April 5, 2013 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 91, Issue 14

With eyes on what could be the first shale gas project in Argentina, Dow Chemical has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Argentinian oil company YPF to develop a gas-rich area of the country.

The memorandum envisages YPF ceding Dow a 50% stake in a shale formation in Neuquén province. Dow and YPF also would explore expanding petrochemical capacity in the country on the basis of additional raw material supply. The firms are still negotiating the terms of the deal.

In the U.S., abundant shale-based feedstocks are leading to a renaissance in the petrochemical industry. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration and consulting firm Advanced Resources International, Argentina has 774 trillion cu ft of recoverable shale gas reserves, the third-largest amount after the U.S. and China. But energy companies are so far only drilling exploratory wells in Argentina.

Dow already operates an ethylene cracker and polyethylene plants in Bahia Blanca, Argentina. In 2001, the company completed $720 million in expansion projects at the site.

And Dow is involved in chemical feedstocks in the country. In Bahia Blanca, it has a 28% interest in Compañía Mega, a natural gas liquids fractionation joint venture with YPF and Brazil’s Petrobras. The venture takes in natural gas liquids from Neuquén and supplies the ethane to Dow to feed its ethylene cracker.

The U.S. firm has been keen to expand its polyethylene business in the region but has been stymied by feedstock supply. Dow recently delayed a plant in Brazil that would get its ethylene from sugarcane-derived ethanol.


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