With the largest shale gas resources and tight oil deposits second only to those of the US in the Western Hemisphere, Argentina is trying to attract more foreign investments by continuing to improve government policies, speakers said during a Mar. 27 discussion at the Inter-American Dialogue. But the South American nation faces substantive challenges as it tries to make operating conditions there more transparent and predictable, they added.“Our general economy has grown for seven consecutive quarters, and poverty is going down,” said Fernando Oris de Rosa, Argentina’s ambassador to the US. “Foreign direct investment grew to $10.7 billion in 2017, and we’d like more. Fiscal and tax reforms have been passed, and discussions with organized labor are planned. Ultimately, we want to move from populism to transparent, realistic policies which become permanent.”

More reforms need to move from transitions to permanence, said Omar Gutierrez, governor of Neuquen province where most of the tight oil and gas supplies are in the Vaca Muerta formation.“We eliminated gas and oil retentions and installed a pricing regime that has encouraged development. We also have done away with consumption subsidies and allowed prices to rise. With drilling costs half of what they were, unconventional oil and gas now has a greater share of our province’s total production, and 20-22% of Argentina’s,” he said.Argentina has become the only Latin American country on a par with the US due to the alignment of its government at several levels with all the stakeholders, said Paolo Carvajal, a consulting member at international management services firm Arthur D. Little’s Houston office. “Today, we can talk about a 50% gain in efficiency per square foot there. Multinationals like ExxonMobil, Chevron, and Shell are there along with YPF, the national oil company,” she said.