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YPF SA and Chevron Corp. have signed a memorandum of understanding to explore for unconventional energy in the South American nation.
The news comes as YPF chief executive Miguel Galuccio seeks funding and international partners to carry out an ambitious exploration and production plan over the next five years.
The memorandum cites plans "to explore unconventional hydrocarbon development opportunities in Vaca Muerta...," YPF said in the statement. The statement did not include additional details of specific plans.
Argentina ranks third in the world, behind China and the U.S., in potentially recoverable shale-gas reserves, with 774 Tcf, according to a study last year by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Since Argentina's government expropriated YPF from Spain's Repsol SA earlier this year, Galuccio has been pushing hard to find the partners and money necessary to exploit those recourses and boost overall production.
YPF needs to raise fresh cash to fund a multibillion-dollar investment plan between 2013-17 that aims to reverse years of falling output and reserves.
In a recent presentation, Galuccio said YPF can invest $24.7 billion from its own pocket through 2017, with investment rising to $40.4 billion if the company is successful in inking joint ventures and obtaining outside financing.
Galuccio also recently met with executives from Russia's Gazprom to gauge support for joint ventures in Argentina.