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Argentina in June started exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) for the first time in its history, marking a new milestone for the Vaca Muerta shale formation in Neuquén province and a portent of much more to come.

The LNG was produced on Exmar NV’s floating LNG production barge called Tango FLNG, at the Bahía Blanca port, and using natural gas piped in from Vaca Muerta in Western Argentina. The vessel has production capacity of 500,000 metric tons, or about 0.07 Bcf/d, and could produce up to eight LNG export cargoes per year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA).

Shale gas production has surged in Argentina from its Vaca Muerta deposit, more than tripling between January and December 2018, from 0.3 Bcf/d to 1.0 Bcf/d. Although government subsidy programs supporting shale and tight gas production were suspended in January, gas production continues to rise.

Natural gas production in May was 7.6% higher than in the same month last year, according to Argentina’s Economy Ministry. Energy Secretary Gustavo Lopetegui projects that Argentina should achieve an energy trade balance this year and a $2 billion surplus in 2021.

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