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New Argentina hydrocarbon law a boon for Madalena Energy, spells greater transparency and better incentives

Madalena, following its acquisition of Gran Tierra’s Argentinean assets in June, now has 14 concessions across Argentina over 1 million net acres of land, compared with three blocks over 132,000 acres previously. It also has a major foothold in an area dominated by industry majors like YPF, Chevron, Total, Exxon and several others. 
New Argentina hydrocarbon law a boon for Madalena Energy, spells greater transparency and better incentives

News in Argentina today that a new hydrocarbon law has been approved across to boost oil investment in the Vaca Muerta shale pushed up the stock of junior oil and gas producer Madalena Energy (CVE:MVN). 

Shares added 3.3 percent to 31 Canadian cents as of 2:15pm ET in Toronto.

Madalena, following its acquisition of Gran Tierra’s Argentinean assets in June, now has 14 concessions across Argentina over 1 million net acres of land, compared with three blocks over 132,000 acres previously. It also has a major foothold in an area dominated by industry majors like YPF, Chevron, Total, Exxon and several others. 

The new hydrocarbon law spells out greater transparency and improved fiscal terms in the region, according to Mackie Research Capital's Bill Newman.

In a research note released Thursday, Newman highlighted aspects of the new law, which standardizes fiscal terms across all 10 provinces in Argentina. Under the new rules, provincial royalties have been standardized at 12 percent, while shale concession terms have been extended from 25 to 35 years, with 10-year optional extension periods. 

In addition, the large investment threshold was lowered from US$1 billion over 5 years to US$250 million over 3 years, for both shale and conventional projects. Qualified participants can export 20 percent of production at world oil prices, without paying the export tax and retain revenue outside of Argentina.

The new incentives should help to attract the substantial amount of foreign investment required to return Argentina to energy self-sufficiency, said Newman, and cut imports that are eating away at the central bank's international reserves.

The new law also includes an uniform federal concession auction system that replaces the current variable provincial system. The updated bill was approved by 130 votes for and 116 against, with 1 abstention, and is now required to be signed by President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and published.

The vote follows four months of negotiations between the government and state-controlled oil company YPF, as well as governors from the country's 10 provinces.

"With greater transparency on royalties and taxes, land auctions and state participation, and the new incentives we expect increased investment into Argentina’s energy sector from the current operators and also from new participants and big oil," wrote Newman in his note.

"The increased investment activity makes Madalena Energy an attractive player as the energy sector and the unconventional shale plays open up in Argentina."

Argentina has become an oil and gas destination, with the country estimated to hold 27 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil and 802 trillion feet of technically recoverable shale gas, much of it attributed to the prized Vaca Muerta shale formation in the Neuquen basin, the fourth largest shale oil deposit in the world.

Madalena is seen as having a solid mix of high impact horizontal resource plays, prime unconventional shale acreage in the Vaca Muerta and Agrio Shales, and a large portfolio of conventional development & exploration assets. Its Argentina acreage is positioned in some of the key areas of the Neuquen basin where the highest activity levels in terms of dollars spent offset its blocks.

The Canadian junior also has a land base with more than 150 net sections in Western Canada, with a large inventory of horizontal development locations.



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