Shell is looking to increase oil production in Argentina by the end of 2023, reported Reuters, citing Shell Argentina CEO Ricardo Rodriguez.

The UK-based oil and gas major plans to increase the production in Vaca Muerta shale patch by 5,000 barrels of oil per day (bopd) to 50,000bopd.

During an oil and gas conference in Buenos Aires, Rodriguez stated that macroeconomic concerns were preventing the company from extending its capital investment in Vaca Muerta.

After Argentina’s state-run oil giant YPF, Shell is claimed to be Vaca Muerta’s second-largest crude oil producer.

Highlighting Vaca Muerta’s “phenomenal” quality, Rodriguez added that Shell would prefer to invest more than the present $500m annually.

Rodriguez noted that Shell had to consider hard before choosing where to invest because of limited access to foreign currency and price controls imposed by the South American nation.

“To invest more we have to have those conditions … that make sense to invest more,” the CEO was quoted by the news agency as saying.

Last month, Argentina put a cap on domestic crude oil price, keeping it at $56 per barrel until the end of October to reduce triple-digit inflation.

Argentina has stringent exchange controls in place to increase the amount of foreign currency reserves in the nation.

“We do not have a free market price for Argentina. We do not have a price , but my colleagues in Brazil or Mexico do,” Rodriguez added. “This generates a big difference in competitiveness.”

The Vaca Muerta shale formation is said to hold the fourth-largest shale oil reserves and second-largest shale gas reserves in the world.

It is essential to Argentina’s goals of becoming an energy exporter, including plans to ship liquefied natural gas (LNG).

In June this year, it was reported that US oil and gas giant Chevron will invest over $500m to develop the El Trapial block in the Vaca Muerta shale basin.