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By Karina Grazina
BUENOS AIRES, Dec 28 (Reuters) - Argentina's state-controlled energy company YPF said on Friday it had signed a preliminary agreement with Bridas International to develop shale resources that would require an initial investment of $1.5 billion over two years.
The details of the accord, which also includes a $500 million loan by Bridas to YPF for future development of the non-conventional fields, will be defined over the next 60 days.
"(Under the proposal) YPF would cede 50 percent of its rights in the Bajada de Anelo and Bandurria fields, which cover an area of 201 square kilometers and 462 square kilometers respectively in the province of Neuquen," the company said in a filing with the Buenos Aires stock exchange.
YPF President Miguel Galuccio told reporters that similar deals could be announced in the first half of next year, but he declined to give details about any of the possible accords.
YPF signed a preliminary agreement for a pilot partnership with U.S. oil major Chevron Corp on Dec. 19 that aims to pave the way for major future investment in shale oil resources.
Bridas owner Carlos Bulgheroni, an Argentine oil mogul, told Reuters earlier this month his company was considering making a substantial investment in partnership with YPF. A day later, YPF said it hoped to finalize the farm-in arrangement before the end of the year.
"The two companies compliment each other," Galuccio said. "Together we can speed up operations in an area that has very high potential, but where we need additional know-how and investment."
In 2010, YPF announced the discovery of the mammoth Vaca Muerta ("Dead Cow") formation in the southern province of Neuquen, which contains an estimated 23 billion barrels of oil equivalent.
YPF says it needs to invest over $30 billion in the next five years, $4.5 billion of which is to come from strategic partners, to help pay to develop Argentina's shale oil and gas resources.