Friday, April 27, 2012

Argentina's Senate Approves Bill to Expropriate YPF

by OGJ editors, OGJ, Houston, Apr 26, 2012
Argentina’s Senate voted in approval of Argentina President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner's bill to expropriate YPF SA, and the Lower House of Congress is expected to vote on the measure next week. YPF was a state-run company until it was [fully] privatized in 1999. [Please see remarks below -- D.R.]

Kirchner asked Congress to renationalize YPF by expropriating 51% of it from Repsol YPF SA, which holds 57% of the company [thus slashing Repsol's stake to 6.4% -- D.R.]. She has said YPF underinvested in exploration and production, forcing Argentina to become a net energy importer. [Please see remarks below -- D.R.]

Repsol has vowed to take legal action, saying YPF invested about $3 billion in 2011 and that the company was the biggest investor in Argentina’s oil and gas industry.

“The unlawful expropriation of YPF does not affect the growth capacity of any of Repsol’s businesses outside Argentina,” Repsol said (OGJ Online, Apr. 17, 2012).

The Argentina Senate voted 63-3 in favor of expropriating YPF with 4 members abstaining from the vote. [Full story]

(The full privatization of YPF was completed in 1999 when Repsol of Spain acquired controlling stock from the Argentine state and the stock market---please see Sang-Hyun Yi, "The Political Economy of Privatization of YPF in Argentina," paper, Pusan University of Foreign Studies. For Argentina's crude oil production during the last years, please see "Top 6 Oil Producers in Central & South America, 2006-Feb. 2011 -- EIA." There has been a gradual erosion of Argentine crude oil output from its peak in 1998: in 1998 Argentina produced a record 846,700 barrels per day, but production has declined since, falling to 587,200 barrels per day in 2011---please see U.S. EIA data. The EIA attributed this decline to relatively low levels of exploration activity, combined with natural declines from maturing fields---please see EIA, Argentina Country Analysis Brief. ExxonMobil's Argentinean operations were so far unaffected by YPF takeover: The Argentinean government's decision to take control of Spanish-owned YPF didn't affect ExxonMobil's first-quarter operations in the country. The U.S. oil major said it finished drilling two unconventional wells in that period and will complete or frack those wells in the second quarter. Exxon said it will continue to observe developments in the region---please see SmartBrief, Apr 27, 2012Update: The Chamber of Deputies [The Lower House of Congress] voted 207 to 32 in favor of expropriating YPF [...], clearing the way for President Cristina Fernandez to sign the bill into law---please see The Telegraph, May 4, 2012 -- D.R.)