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A record built on more records

Published 6.3.2024

Tecpetrol’s Fortín de Piedra, located in Vaca Muerta, Neuquén (Argentina), has hit the 1 TCF mark for accumulated gas production. Not only the field’s output, but also its construction, mark a before and after for the country. This is the story.


Last week, Fortín de Piedra reached the accumulated gas production figure of one Trillion Cubic Feet (TCF), a record by any measure, as the field is not only one of the few to achieve this in the country, but also the one that did so the fastest.

Seven years ago, the wind was the only thing moving in the wilderness of the plateau where now stands the CPF (Central Processing Facility) for Fortín de Piedra, the plant centralizing all gas processing for the area. This imposing facility is made up of hundreds of kilometers of pipes, gas separation equipment, storage tanks, compressors, a desalination plant and a water treatment plant, among many other parts.

Everything had to be done from scratch. Tecpetrol needed the Fortín de Piedra facility to be ready in two years. Meaning that the project to design and build the surface facilities to extract, treat and transport the gas produced in Vaca Muerta had to be up and running by then. However, Techint E&C achieved this feat in a period of just 18 months.

The field was delivered and ready to start operations before the deadline thanks to the deployment of a fast-track project methodology where design and construction are carried out in parallel and certain activities, normally carried out as part of a sequence, are superimposed according to a tight schedule.

Nothing was spared: effort, enthusiasm, and the ability to articulate high volumes of activity and investment: 4,500 people at the peak of work, 7.7 million labor hours and USD 840 million in investment. Also, some 1,000 SMEs from all over the country participated in the supply chain, many leveraged by the ProPymes Program and all proud to be part of this great project. Vast amounts of machines and people coming and going, a human anthill that would transform the landscape of the Neuquén plateau in such a way that by mid-2018, the CPF was ready to start production.

“When I started working at Fortín de Piedra in 2021, I was amazed to see what had been achieved in such a short execution time. It was a major feat. Over the following years, we continued to develop optimizations and expansions so that we could process 24 million m3 of gas per day,” recalls Sebastian Novillo, Regional Office Manager Neuquén.

Martin Jiménez Álvarez, currently Sr. Project Manager at the SADDN project says: “Looking back on the seven years since the project began in March 2017, I believe I can speak for my team, we all feel immense pride and gratitude for being involed in a project that is such a symbol for the Techint Group and the progress of Vaca Muerta.” He adds: “Everything was done in such a short time, which was only possible thanks to a team of excellent professionals who poured all their ability and effort into making it happen. And thanks to the commitment and pride driving us as members of an extraordinary project both for the Group and for the country.”

Techint E&C completed its main task in what was to become one of the world’s top shale capitals: six years later, this giant, designed to process up to 24 million m3 of gas per day, notched up its first TCF.

The words of two Tecpetrol leaders, Ricardo Markous, CEO, and Martin Bengochea, Vice President Neuquén Basin & Vaca Muerta, say it all. “Behind these figures lie not only extraordinary efforts but also the conviction that we must convert the promising unconventional areas of Vaca Muerta into sources of energy for our country”, says Markous proudly. In line Bengochea states: “This milestone is the reward for the work achieved by a great team, and the direct result of the development of the field, in record time, thanks to the synergy intrinsic to the Techint Group’s industrial DNA.”

Like everything in the Techint Group, this milestone did not come as a surprise, but was the foreseeable result of an extraordinary team pulling together in the same direction.

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