BY MICHAEL SMITH & PABLO GONZALEZ
Explosions tear through the Vaca Muerta shale oil deposit, 3,100 meters beneath the desert in western Argentina, cracking open underground rock formations.
Oil workers, braving 40-degree-Celsius heat and vicious swarms of horseflies, operate a battery of massive pumps that roar into action. They force a gelatinous sluice of water, chemicals and sand into the openings created by the explosion, so they can tease out the oil.
“Success!” yells Osvaldo Alarcon, who’s supervising the hydraulic fracturing — or fracking — for the site’s owner, YPF SA, Argentina’s state oil producer. His workers cheer. “The center of the earth is ours,” he says, Bloomberg Markets magazine will report in its April issue.
The crew of Shale Oil 28, or SOIL 28, as this tract is known, is on the frontline of a push by some of the world’s largest energy companies to unearth Vaca Muerta’s hidden riches.