YPF to Lose More Fields as Argentina Eyes Petrobras

YPF SA, Argentina’s largest oil company, will probably lose three licenses for fields in the southern province of Santa Cruz where it produces 11 percent of its crude, a local official said.

Santa Cruz Governor Daniel Peralta will probably issue a decree withdrawing the licenses on April 12, Juan Ferreiro, head of the provincial energy institute, said in a statement yesterday. He said the province is also weighing whether Petrobras Argentina SA, a unit of Brazil’s state-run Petroleo Brasileiro SA, and China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., known as Sinopec, are complying with their investment plans.

Six provinces have pulled at least 12 concessions from YPF since March 13 as President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s government demands higher investments in an attempt to boost production and reduce fuel imports that doubled to $9.4 billion in 2011. The revoked concessions accounted for about 5 percent of YPF’s oil output, according to Banco Itau BBA.

The pressure on YPF prompted Deutsche Bank AG and Raymond James Inc. to lower the stock’s rating. Raymond James cut YPF to market perform from outperform because of “the potential loss of key production areas in Santa Cruz and Chubut,” analysts Emiliano Wachs and Federico Chapto said in a report today.

Last week, Neuquen became the first province to withdraw licenses from companies other than YPF, by pulling areas from Petrobras, Tecpetrol SA and Azabache Energy Inc.

CEO Visits

Petrobras and Neuquen officials met today with Argentine Planning Minister Julio De Vido, who oversees energy policy, and will work on an investment plan, according to an e-mailed statement from the ministry. De Vido will present the plan in an April 20 meeting with Maria das Gracas Foster, chief executive officer of Petrobras Argentina’s Rio de Janeiro-based parent, the ministry said.

Antonio Brufau, chief executive officer of YPF’s controlling shareholder Repsol YPF SA, arrived in Buenos Aires yesterday and is seeking meetings with government officials to discuss Argentina’s stance toward the oil producer. Newspapers Pagina/12, El Cronista Comercial and Ambito Financiero have reported over the past two months that the government may nationalize or buy a stake in YPF.

“The political environment could continue to deteriorate from here,” Deutsche Bank analysts Marcus Sequeira and Luiz Fonseca said in note to clients today.

Press officials at YPF didn’t immediately respond to a message left by Bloomberg News seeking comment.

Chinese Bid

China National Offshore Oil Corp., known as Cnooc, is preparing a 9.16 billion euro ($12 billion) bid for YPF pending approval from Argentina’s government, Spain’s El Confidencial reported today, citing people it didn’t identify.

YPF dropped 2 percent to $22.22 at the close in New York. It fell 1.6 percent to 120.50 pesos in Buenos Aires.

The three concessions that may be revoked April 12 are Canadon Vasco, Los Perales-Las Mesetas and Pico Truncado-El Cordon.

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