Argentina to Take Control of YPF Gas as Seizures Continue

Argentina to Take Control of YPF Gas as Seizures Continue
The YPF SA refinery stands in Lujan de Cuyo, Argentina. Photographer Walter Moreno/Bloomberg

Argentina will seize natural-gas producer YPF Gas SA as part of plans to boost control of its natural resources, two days after seizing oil producer YPF SA.

“We supposed it was a unit of YPF, but it isn’t, it’s a separate company,” Senator Anibal Fernandez said today in Buenos Aires. “Both companies need to be expropriated.”

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner seized control of YPF, the country’s largest energy company, on April 16, and sent a bill to nationalize the stake. Argentina said Spanish parent Repsol YPF SA was responsible for declining Argentine oil and gas output since 1998. Senators will vote on the bill April 25 after senate committees approved it today.

Argentine provinces withdrew 15 oil field licenses from YPF before this week’s nationalization announcement as the government demanded the Madrid-based oil producer increase output and investments as it seeks to cut back on fuel imports that doubled to $9.4 billion last year.

Kristian Rix, a spokesman for Repsol, declined to comment.

Argentina’s largest gas distributor is bankrupt Metrogas SA, in which YPF SA owns a stake. Metrogas, in which the UK’s BG Group Plc is the largest shareholder, is under government control since filing for bankruptcy in June 2010.

Gas, oil and utility prices regulated since at least 2002 as part of government’s anti-inflation policies have reduced investments and driven foreign companies such as GDF Suez to leave the country while others, such as BG, closed their local offices.

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