US energy giant Chevron has received a new concession, from the Argentine province of Neuquen, for shale exploitation in the Vaca Muerta formation, reported Reuters.

The company now operates the 282.8km² El Trapial Este block for the unconventional exploitation of hydrocarbons (CENCH).

During the three-year pilot stage, Chevron plans to invest $65.7m to drill, complete, and commission five horizontal wells, each between 2,500 and 3,000 meters deep.

As part of the pilot plan, the firm will make a further $13m investment for the construction of support infrastructure.

Chevron Latin America managing director Eric Dunning was cited by as saying: “This concession is an important milestone for Chevron Argentina, since it will allow unconventional development in the eastern zone of El Trapial.

“We are very excited to begin this new phase in our historic field, and we look forward to continuing to strengthen our commitment to the community and our presence in the country.”

Neuquen Governor Omar Gutierrez said: “We are connecting Neuquén with the world. This implies a new development in the northern area of ​​Vaca Muerta, generating new jobs for people from Neuquén throughout the area of ​​Rincón de los Sauces”, highlighted the president.

Through its wholly owned subsidiary Chevron Argentina S.R.L, Chevron produces crude oil and natural gas in Argentina.

Chevron Argentina, which has concessions in the Neuquén basin, is searching for unconventional oil and gas resources in the Vaca Muerta shale.

The Vaca Muerta shale formation is said to be the fourth-largest shale oil reserve in the world.

Earlier this month, Chevron announced that it was in preliminary talks with the Venezuelan Government in an attempt to gain more control over the country’s oil and gas assets.