YPF seeks $37B cash for shale development

Dec. 20, 2012 at 3:15 PM
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BUENOS AIRES, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- Argentina's nationalized oil and gas corporation YPF is seeking new investors in Europe and Asia as part of its plan to raise about $37 billion to develop energy reserves allegedly neglected by the company's former Spanish majority owner Repsol.

Repsol has warned Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner that YPF's new international deals will attract litigation and compensation claims.

Despite Repsol's warnings YPF is going ahead with its quest for new investors and also getting positive response, an indication of the competition climate in the international energy industry.

This week energy giant Chevron agreed to invest $1 billion to develop the shale-oil reserves of Vaca Muerta in the Patagonian province of Neuquen.

The companies will together drill 100 non-conventional wells in the Vaca Muerta area, which is said to hold at least 23 billion barrels of oil equivalent.

The agreement is the first YPF has secured with a foreign oil company to invest in Argentina since the nationalization. Chevron's commitment is still a long way off the $37 billion YPF wants. Chevron says the investment will cover a pilot phase.

Meanwhile, Norway's Statoil is one of the energy majors within sights of YPF, which Argentina nationalized in May. Buenos Aires has ignored Repsol calls for compensation.

Instead, Argentina says, its priority is to raise the $37 billion, some from strategic partnerships, to develop the country's shale oil and gas resources.

Argentina is locked out of global credit markets because of its 2002 sovereign debt default. It faces new lawsuits over YPF nationalization.

Plans for developing shale oil have provoked protests and controversies as critics want a thorough study of the program's impact on Argentina's water resources.

YPF Chairman and Chief Executive Miguel Galuccio said he is also seeking new partnership deals with Bridas, jointly owned by billionaire Carlos Bulgheroni and China National Offshore Oil Corp.

Ripples from the YPF seizure continue. Brazilian state energy company Petrobras is putting its Argentine assets up for sale and will start accepting bids from interested buyers, Buenos Aires newspaper La Nacion said.

Petrobras hired Scotiabank Brasil to handle the sale and talks have been conducted with four Argentine oil companies: state-run YPF S.A., Tecpetrol, Pluspetrol and Bridas, La Nacion said.

A Petrobras representative declined comment on the report.

Petrobras Chief Executive Maria das Gracas Foster said earlier in the year that the company would continue to invest in Argentina but saw its work on developing ultra-deep-water fields found off Brazil's coast as a top priority.

Petrobras Argentina equity values fell after Argentina's YPF takeover.

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