TGS Proposes $500 Million Expansion of Vaca Muerta Gas Pipeline

(Reuters) — Argentine gas transportation firm TGS said on Wednesday it has proposed investing $500 million to expand the capacity of a government-owned natural gas pipeline that connects to the country's massive Vaca Muerta shale oil and gas formation.

The proposed investment by TGS in new compressor plants and equipment will depend on a government decision to approve the expansion project and solicit bids to build it, the company said.

Vaca Muerta, located in western Neuquen province, boasts one of the world's largest shale reserves, which has seen output steadily grow in recent years.

Successive governments have invested heavily in the area to reverse a longstanding energy deficit and eventually export excess production. But analysts say Vaca Muerta still requires more infrastructure to sustain additional growth.

Expanded pipeline capacity would help Argentina's trade balance and save the government money, TGS CEO Oscar Sardi told journalists. He said TGS presented its proposal to government officials earlier on Wednesday.

The gas pipeline, named after former President Nestor Kirchner, has capacity for 11 million cubic meters per day (m3/d), but is expected to reach up to 21 million m3/d after ongoing projects are completed.

TGS' proposal could boost capacity to 35 million m3/d.

"We'll surely be able to export to neighboring countries" by the Southern Hemisphere summer, said Sardi.

The executive noted that TGS' pipeline expansion would be able to supply gas for Argentina's peak 100 consumption days of the year, with the rest exported to Chile, Bolivia and Brazil.

The government should award the project before November so the expansion could be completed by mid-2026, according to TGS.

The TGS announcement marks Argentina's first major private energy infrastructure initiative in years and comes as Congress is close to passing a special benefits scheme for large private investments.

TGS said it will also spend $200 million installing 20 kilometers (12 miles) of pipeline and boost compression in an area where it already holds concessions, regardless of the outcome of its latest proposal.

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