Exxon Targets Argentina Shale

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Exxon Mobil, the largest U.S. oil company, said today it will pay more than $76 million to partner with Canada's Americas Petrogas to tap into shale oil and natural gas deposits in Argentina. Exxon will gain a 45% stake in Americas Petrogas's Los Toldos blocks, which cover 163,500 acres in the Neuquen Basin, according to Bloomberg News.

Exxon (XOM) is already the largest U.S. natural gas producer, but is looking for additional shale opportunities throughout the globe. In addition to Latin America, the Texas-based company is among a group of Western oil majors looking to tap shale deposits throughout Eastern Europe.

Americas Petrogas plans to drill a well in the fourth quarter at its blocks, targeting the unconventional Vaca Muerta formation, which may hold as much as 240 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas, Bloomberg reported. That deposit has been compared by some experts to the Eagle Ford and Haynesville Shales in the U.S.

Exxon said it will have more than 310,000 net acres in the Neuquen Basin following the deal with Americas Petrogas.