Offshore Argentina: Shell Takes 30% Stake in Block Owned by Equinor, YPF

The Dutch supermajor will take on a nonoperating stake in the largest exploration block in the North Argentine Basin, which remains largely unexplored.

Oil and gas supermajor Shell has agreed to take on a 30% nonoperating interest in a block offshore Argentina that is owned by Equinor and YPF.

In 2019, the Norwegian oil company Equinor became the operator of the block under a farm-in agreement with Argentina’s YPF. The block, called CAN 100, covers more than 15,000 km2, making it the largest exploration area in the North Argentine Basin.

Equinor and YPF currently both hold 50% equity in the license. After the transaction is approved by the government, their share will shrink to 35% each, with Shell holding the remaining 30% in the block.


A 4-year exploratory period began in May 2019 when YPF originally was awarded a 100% interest in the block by the government as part of the country’s first open bid round for offshore acreage.

Offshore drilling in Argentina reached its apex in the 1990s with the last subsea well drilled there by Shell in 1997. These early projects failed to find commercial success, due in part to complex geologies.

In the 2019 bid round, designed to turn around the country’s offshore prospect, Equinor was awarded seven blocks, five as the operator. ExxonMobil, Eni, Total, and BP were among the other big oil companies to win interests in offshore blocks.