Argentina's YPF signs preliminary deal with Equinor and Shell in Vaca Muerta

BUENOS AIRES, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Oil firms Equinor and Shell have signed a preliminary agreement with Argentina state energy firm YPF to acquire an additional 11% participation in the Bandurria Sur region of the vast Vaca Muerte shale field, YPF said on Friday.

Vaca Muerta, which covers an area about the size of Belgium in the southern region of Patagonia, is thought to contain one of the world’s largest reserves of unconventional oil and gas. It remains largely untapped.

“YPF leads the development of non-conventional (hydrocarbons) in the country and the results we’ve obtained make us the partner of choice for big global companies,” said Guillermo Nielsen, president of YPF Argentina.

The agreement between the three parties remains subject to regulatory approvals, the company said in a statement.

If approved, YPF would hold 40% of the field and would continue to manage operations there, the company said. (Reporting by Walter Bianchi, writing by Dave Sherwood Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)