The first stage began to work with a $70 million investment. This stage will link the Ports of Buenos Aires and Bahía Blanca with that of Concepcion in Chile.

The development of Vaca Muerta reservoir continues to generate productive projects around it. On top of the economic explosion of Añelo Town in Neuquen Province, the start-up of Zapala Free Trade Zone was added at 160 kilometers from the shale gas formation where the Argentine Energy Policies for the next decades are concentrated.

The 30 year concession contract to begin developing the initiative was signed yesterday by Governor Omar Gutierrez with representatives of the transitional union of five Neuquen companies that will administer it. From this moment, the UTE may begin with the movement of soils on the area destined for the Free Trade Zone. The first stage will include basic works such as a perimeter fence, lighting, sheds and an open pit tank.

The pole has a total area of 250 hectares which will concentrate industrial, logistic and service activities. As officially reported, this first instance for the development of 20 hectares required a $ 70 million investment.

Through the deferral of import taxes and the possibility of storing large amounts of stocks for long periods of time (even exceeding what is established by law for tax deposits), Zapala Free Trade Zone will allow companies to count with financial benefits that will have direct impact on business results.

Likewise, investors say the availability of inputs and the short distance with the hydrocarbon production areas will prevent unscheduled stops, saving the operating companies millionaire costs.

“This brand new pole is of extreme strategic importance due to its 162 km proximity to Vaca Muerta. In addition, due to its geographical location, we can say it is similar to a Continental Patagonian Panama Canal ”, said Fernando Montero, CEO of Zapala Free Trade Zone. He added that the pole will seek to prop up trade and industrial export activity by reducing costs, which in some cases are estimated at up to 50% of current values.

The new Free Trade Zone is of great relevance for Neuquen Province since it is located less than 180 km from the provincial capital, just 160 km from Añelo (Vaca Muerta) and close to important towns such as San Martín de Los Andes, Caviahué and Pino Hachado International Pass. This venture is expected to generate some 2,000 new jobs – direct and indirect- when fully operational.

The enclave will also link the deepwater ports of Concepción in Chile, with those of Buenos Aires and Bahía Blanca, the latter by train (through the Bahía Blanca-Zapala cargo line) and by route (RN22 and RN40, with linkages with RP13, RP14, RP16 and RP46). Likewise, Zapala has a newly remodelled airport with a 2,400 meter plane track that will allow areal access.

The Free Trade Zone will be administered for 30 years as dictated by law (Resolution 277/2018, published in the Official Gazette of the Argentine Republic, based on Law 24,331), with the possibility of extending the contract for another 10 years, by a UTE (Transitional Union of Companies) constituted by Servicios y Consultoría SA, Zona Franca Zapala SA, Argent-Pat SRL, Codesín SA, Petro Neu SA and MyP Fundaciones Especiales.