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Argentina Offered U.S. Technical Help for Vaca Muerta at G20 Summit

One week after President Trump left a discordant G7 summit in Canada, Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Rick Perry appears to have struck a more diplomatic chord with his counterparts at a G20 summit in Argentina, reportedly offering the host country technical assistance as it looks to develop the Vaca Muerta Shale in the Neuquén Basin.

Perry and the other G20 energy ministers, meeting in San Carlos de Bariloche last Friday, issued a joint statement recognizing the importance of natural gas and pledging to work together on various global energy challenges, including climate change and energy security.

"We recognize the key role that natural gas currently plays for many G20 countries, and its potential to expand significantly over the coming decades, supporting transitions toward lower emission energy systems," the energy ministers said in a translated statement. "We will endeavor to improve the functionality, transparency and competitiveness of natural gas markets, with a strategic view of the supply chain -- including liquefied natural gas and storage facilities -- at a global level.

"We will encourage an expanded dialogue with relevant international organizations on more effective and flexible use of natural gas."

Bloomberg reported that Perry had reached out to Argentina Energy Minister Juan José Aranguren, offering to have U.S. pipeline companies and natural gas processors come to Vaca Muerta to help expand the play's infrastructure.

"One of the things that I offered is U.S. technology partnerships, to make the introductions with the private sector," Perry told Bloomberg on the sidelines of the G20 summit. "The technology that has allowed for the shale gas revolution in America we want to make available to Argentina."

Argentina's state-owned YPF SA, the biggest operator in the Vaca Muerta, has said luring operators that work in the Permian Basin would help drive development of the play, according to the report. Aranguren also shared that sentiment with reporters at the summit.

Last month, Qatar Petroleum acquired an equity stake in the Vaca Muerta under an agreement with ExxonMobil Corp. BP plc, Chevron Corp., Equinor ASA (formerly Statoil) and Royal Dutch Shell plc are also active in the play, with many working alongside YPF.

"Being able to not be held hostage by countries who don't share our values is really important," Perry told Bloomberg. He added that the policies of Argentina President Mauricio Macri "are right in line with U.S. values."

The G20 summit stood in sharp contrast to the G7 summit held earlier this month in Canada. Trump refused to sign a joint statement at the end of the summit and took aim at its host, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The dust-up came immediately after Trump imposed a 25% tariff on steel imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union, as well as a 10% tariff on aluminum imports.

Last week, Trump slapped a 25% tariff on a host of products imported from China, including parts used for offshore oil and natural gas drilling and production platforms. All of the aforementioned countries have since imposed retaliatory tariffs on the United States.

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