An Odd Alliance in Patagonia

On the windswept Patagonian steppe, crews of roughnecks are drilling around the clock in pursuit of a vast shale oil reservoir that might be the world’s next great oil field.

But that ambition hinges on an improbable alliance between the American oil giant Chevron and Argentina, a politically volatile country with a history of hostility toward foreign investors. What brings them together is the dream of an enormous bounty from the field, called Vaca Muerta, or Dead Cow.

President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s decision to press ahead with the partnership with Chevron has her critics and supporters fuming because of the company’s long conflict with Ecuador over an Amazon pollution case. Other legal battles are raging over Argentina’s nationalization of its largest oil company, which also threaten to entangle Chevron.

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