Foreign leaders line up to see Argentina’s ‘Dead Cow’

Many Argentines are optimistic the Vaca Muerta (Dead Cow) oil and gas fields can transform their nation’s fortunes overnight. Interest from Russian and Chinese leaders is helping fuel that hope.

Silvia Izquierdo/AP
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (l.), India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (c.), and China's President Xi Jinping (r.) arrive for a group photo at the BRICS summit in Fortaleza, Brazil, Tuesday, July 15.

Russian and Chinese leaders are beating a path to Argentina’s door. But amid talk of strengthening political ties and boosting investment and trade, there’s really only one thing they care about.

“They’re dipping their toes in here to see what’s going on with Vaca Muerta,” says our correspondent in Buenos Aires. "The rest is fluff.”

Argentina’s most prized possession, Vaca Muerta (“Dead Cow”), holds an estimated 16 billion barrels of shale oil and 308 trillion cubic feet of shale gas. That would give Argentina the world’s fourth-largest reserves of shale oil and second-largest of shale gas.

Russian President Vladimir Putin stopped short of making any statements on Vaca Muerta during his visit to Buenos Aires over the weekend, focusing instead on the signing of a new nuclear energy agreement and announcing that Russian atomic energy corporation Rosatom would help construct Argentina’s Atucha III nuclear power plant. However, his counterpart Cristina Fernández de Kirchner took special note that members of Mr. Putin’s delegation would be visiting Vaca Muerta.

“We’re talking about Russia – one of the world’s top producers of gas and oil in the world,” President Kirchner said. “But we Argentines also have our own and it seems like others have noticed.”

China has also noticed. The state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corp. in 2010 acquired a 50 percent stake in Argentine energy company Bridas Corp., a deal widely seen as enabling CNOOC to invest in the Vaca Muerta. President Xi Jinping is visiting Argentina later this week following a summit for the group of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) and a forum on China-Latin America ties.

Many Argentines are optimistic about the potential for Vaca Muerta to transform their nation’s fortunes almost overnight. Argentine economist and columnist Jorge Castro wrote in local newspaper Clarin over the weekend that Vaca Muerta will become the center of gravity of the global oil and gas business over the next decade. The development will reverse the “irrelevance syndrome” that has plagued Argentina in the last 20 years, he wrote.

Argentina is increasingly desperate to develop Vaca Muerta, but it needs help.... For the rest of the story, continue reading at our new business publication Monitor Global Outlook.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Foreign leaders line up to see Argentina’s ‘Dead Cow’
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today