Hydrocarbon surge: a new city to be developed in Vaca Muerta

Located next to the city of Añelo near the shale oil reservoir, the city is expected to be five times bigger

A group of urban developers, architects, and real estate experts will build a new city a few meters away from shale oil reservoir Vaca Muerta to address the hydrocarbon industry boom and its current infrastructure and housing “bottlenecks.” The urban project would have an extension of 10,000 hectares and is expected to command millionaire investments in land, industries, duty-free zones, logistics, and housing.  

The new urban development will be called “Añelo Ciudad Central” (‘Añelo Central City’) and will be connected to the current city of Añelo in Neuquén province, near Vaca Muerta’s main pits. The goal is to expand the city now that the recently-approved arrival of the North Patagonian railroad will increase the area’s accessibility and connections.

“Today, Añelo has 4,000 available beds, which means 30,000 people are coming and going every day because they don’t have a place to sleep. We will create the necessary infrastructure to help the hydrocarbon industry keep growing,” said Sebastián Cantero from TBSA (Toro Brokers SA), the company in charge of developing the project. 

Cantero explained that it’s not a real estate project, but rather an urban program. “It’s a city that will coexist with Añelo, expanding its urban limits with new lands,” he explained. To give an idea of how big it will be, the city of Añelo currently covers 2000 hectares: this project could cover up to 10,000 hectares. 

Funding is 100% private, and developers are looking for investors. “We are expecting a huge demand,” said Cantero. The company will sell land plots to big investors but also smaller lots for housing, shops, real estate complexes, and industries. They will also donate land to the city government for hospitals, schools, and public parks. The company will act as a “Master Developer” — meaning it will sell and rent land on a big scale. 

“People always talk about hydrocarbon industry bottlenecks such as transport, and that is why the Néstor Kirchner pipeline was so celebrated. But there is also the bottleneck of how to get to, live in, and work in Vaca Muerta,” said Cantero. 

Big oil companies are some of the expected investors, as are their industrial suppliers. “Today, industry [members] have to travel at least 100 kilometers to get anything, because if you want to rent a bed, you have to wait for at least 180 days,” said Cantero. The development will also include a new train station, which will be strategic for the consumer goods logistics industry. 

The developers foresee an exponential growth of the city in the next five years and a full development for the next 20 years. They estimate 18,000 direct new jobs and 50,000 indirect ones. 

The companies behind the development are TBSA, run by Sebastian Cantero; Metro X and Metro Futuro, in the accounting structuring (run by Mariela Schenone); Oficina Urbana will be in charge of the urban master plan, led by Roberto Converti, who created Puerto Madero; and the manager is Eduardo Sposito, from Sposito y Asociados. The TBSA developer has a stand at the 2023 Argentina Oil&Gas (AOG) exhibit that is ongoing at La Rural. They will provide more detail on the project on Wednesday, 4 p.m. in stand 3C-54.

So far, the actual progress has taken place in the awarding of contracts for both the arrival of the North Patagonian railroad and Land Commitment Trust and Advanced Urban Project that will be submitted to the Neuquén legislature. It covers 2500 hectares of the trust, with an 10,000 hectares expansion flexibility depending on population demand.

Originally published in Ambito.com / Translated by Agustín Mango


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