Argentina’s oil-producing provinces will postpone discussions with federal authorities scheduled for this week over a proposed energy bill after the government appointed a new energy secretary, two provincial officials said.
Provincial delegates canceled flights to Buenos Aires for a meeting tomorrow and there are no immediate plans to reschedule the meeting, one official said. Both people asked not to be named because negotiations are private.
Mariana Matranga, a 38-year-old chemical engineer and adviser to a director of state-owned YPF SA since August 2012, was appointed by the federal government this week to replace Daniel Cameron, who held the post for 11 years. When YPF was nationalized in April 2012, Matranga said Norway’s Statoil ASA (STL) and Petroleo Brasileiro SA were models for Argentina to emulate.
Provincial governors and federal authorities are discussing a proposal to replace the 1967 hydrocarbons law, including how to distribute revenue from the world’s fourth-biggest shale oil reserves and second-largest shale gas reserves in southwestern Argentina’s Vaca Muerta formation.
Horacio Mizrahi, a spokesman for federal Planning Minister Julio De Vido, didn’t respond to a phone call and an e-mail seeking comment. Chubut Governor Martin Buzzi, who heads the committee of the 10 provinces, and Neuquen Governor Jorge Sapag weren’t available to comment, their respective assistants said.
Matranga, who has field expertise in shale operations, didn’t reply to several phone calls seeking comment. Matranga’s swearing-in for the new position hasn’t been scheduled.
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner canceled official events for three days this week because of laryngitis, according to a medical report released by her doctors.
A former technical coordinator for engineering projects at Tenaris SA, Matranga is one of several people aligned with Economy Minister Axel Kicillof who are occupying strategic positions in Fernandez’s administration.
Matranga attended Colegio Nacional de Buenos Aires, one of Argentina’s most prestigious high schools, at the same time as Augusto Costa, who last year replaced Guillermo Moreno as Interior Commerce Secretary. Both Cameron and Moreno were appointed by Fernandez’s late predecessor and husband Nestor Kirchner. Kicillof is an alumni of the same school.
Matranga was on the Kicillof-led team that prepared YPF’s expropriation from Repsol SA. A few months before the takeover, she co-authored a paper that concluded that shale appears as “the solution to Argentina’s reserves decrease.”
“Argentina needs an energy secretary who is able to harmonize the provincial interests with those of YPF and private oil market players,” Mauricio Roitman, an analyst at energy consultant Montamat & Asociados, said in a telephone interview from Buenos Aires. He said he didn’t know Matranga.
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