ExxonMobil Weighs Offers for Argentina Shale Assets, Source Says

(Reuters) — U.S. energy giant ExxonMobil Corp. is weighing offers for its oil and gas assets in Argentina's Vaca Muerta shale region, a source familiar with the plan said on Friday, adding there was no time frame for a decision and the sale may not move forward.

Bloomberg earlier on Friday reported that ExxonMobil was exploring a $1 billion sale of its shale assets in the South American country, a process that started last year.

"The process began in August, it continues to advance and the offers are being evaluated," the source said, asking not to be named as the matter was confidential. The person added that the firm had received offers earlier this month.

"At the beginning of February they presented binding offers. There is no time or due date to provide a response to say how the operation continues. They are being evaluated by the shareholders," the source said.

Earlier this week, Mexican firm Vista Energy, Argentina's second-largest shale oil producer behind state-owned YPF, publicly expressed its interest in Exxon's Vaca Muerta assets.

"They have interesting assets. And yes, we are looking into that," Vista CEO Miguel Galuccio said on a conference call on Wednesday.

Exxon's assets in Argentina include stakes it owns in seven oil-and-gas blocks in Vaca Muerta.

The company declined to comment on the matter when contacted by Reuters.

Argentina, battling an economic crisis, is betting on Vaca Muerta, the world's second-largest shale gas reserve and fourth-largest for shale oil, to turn the country into an energy powerhouse and curb dependence on costly imports.

The source told Reuters that any sale, if it went ahead, would not be a "political" decision but part of a wider portfolio management. It also would not include a large global service center with some 3,000 employees in Buenos Aires, the person added.

Argentina's new right-wing libertarian President Javier Milei is contending with a severe economic crisis, with inflation running at more than 250%, depleted foreign currency reserves, and strict capital controls to defend the peso currency.

The economic crisis has created challenges for companies operating in the country, though the government is making a major push to ramp up investment in Vaca Muerta.

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