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ECONOMY | 21-03-2024 11:59

Oilfield billionaire Paolo Rocca has ‘lot of hope’ for Milei

Paolo Rocca, billionaire chief of oil-pipe maker Tenaris SA, said expectations are high that President Javier Milei can turbo-charge development of the country’s shale deposits.

Paolo Rocca, billionaire chief of oil-pipe maker Tenaris SA, said expectations are high that President Javier Milei can turbo-charge development of the country’s shale deposits.

The Vaca Muerta basin has natural gas reserves potentially higher than those in the Permian Basin and crude reserves comparable to the giant US field, Rocca said Wednesday. 

Vaca Muerta’s oil production, currently at about 300,000 barrels a day, could grow to more than one million barrels in the next six or seven years, he added.

“The problem is above the surface, the regulatory environment,” he said at the CERAWeek by S&P Global energy conference in Houston.

Rocca, who has a net worth of US$15 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, said he thinks Milei will succeed in reducing the regulatory burden. “We have a lot of hope in the new president,” he said.

Expanding pipelines and other infrastructure in Vaca Muerta would resolve a key bottleneck holding back the shale patch. Rocca would likely benefit from such a build-out. Units of his Techint Group empire helped construct the Néstor Kirchner gas pipeline that was inaugurated last year. Rocca’s drilling company, Tecpetrol, also has plans to ramp up production.

The way business leaders have courted Milei has caught the eye of his critics after he came to power on an anti-establishment platform, which saw him berate politicians and their relationships with powerful business figures.

Yet since Milei came to power in December, several of Rocca’s former employees in Argentina have been handed positions at state-run energy company YPF SA.

Tenaris is one of the biggest suppliers to the global oil and natural gas industry for steel, a key ingredient for pipelines and producing wells underground.

by David Wethe, Jonathan Gilbert & Patrick Gillespie, Bloomberg

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