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  • Felix Tsourakis

Argentina’s unique hydrocarbon legal framework

Argentina’s province-central hydrocarbon legal regime


Argentina’s current hydrocarbon exploration developments, and immense oil and gas potential, reveal a lot of available and future business opportunities. Argentina recognised the potential its colossal shale oil and gas deposits possess and took initiative by creating an investment-friendly regime. This regime harbours an attractive and hospitable framework for operators and service providers looking to make the most out of the Vaca Muerta discovery, and explore new frontier areas.


Argentina’s hydrocarbon legal regime is unique, as each provincial government is responsible for the licensing of exploration and exploitation operations within their borders. The federal government transferred the licensing rights to the provinces in January 2007, following the enactment of Law No. 26,197 (also known as the short law). This change took place in order to establish a responsive and adaptable environment for oil & gas investors and operators, optimising procedures and operations.


Gaining access to provisional registries


Every province is in charge of maintaining its own registry of licenses and operators, with a province-specific authority in charge. Access to the provincial registries is free, but physical. As such, the Argentina Oil, Gas & Energy Summit is the ideal place to meet with the Ministers of the provinces and make the most out of the Argentinian oil and gas framework.


More than 8 licenses have been awarded to companies operating in Vaca Muerta since 2010, including YPF, Chevron, Total, ExxonMobil, Petrobras, Shell, Wintershall, Pan American Energy and many more. Meet Argentina’s top operators at the first Argentina Oil, Gas & Energy Summit on 10-11 July 2019.


What is the existing legal regime for offshore exploration in Argentina?


Offshore licenses are subject to federal jurisdiction, with the Secretariat of Energy overseeing the licensing and operation of the available blocks. For the first time, on 16 April 2019, ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum were awarded three exploration blocks. ExxonMobil will operate the blocks with 70% working interest, while the remaining 30% will be held by an affiliate of Qatar Petroleum. The operators will start 3-D seismic data acquisition soon, generating opportunities for offshore service providers to enter the market. The current offshore licensing round has more than 13 companies bidding for offshore blocks in Argentina.


This bidding process aims to grant exploration permits in offshore blocks of jurisdiction of the National State, under the regulatory and regulatory framework of Law 17.319.

The success of this system is made evident by the recent consecutive upstream activities and discoveries of several operators and service providers in Vaca Muerta, which will be discussing their activities, experience and opportunities this July, at the Argentina Oil, Gas & Energy Summit.


Argentina is ready to welcome more operators and service partners and awaits new discoveries.

You can find more about these opportunities first-hand, and generate your discovery, by registering and hearing about these opportunities first-hand by Dr. Erico Spinadel, President of, on the Argentina Oil, Gas & Energy Summit, taking place in 10th-11th of July 2019 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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