Argentina’s Bridas Group, the oil producer controlled by billionaire Bulgheroni brothers and China National Offshore Oil Corp., is suing Repsol SA to prevent it from blocking a $1.5 billion shale-gas project.
The group’s Virgin Islands-based Bridas International and Bridas Energy Holdings units filed the lawsuit against Madrid-based Repsol on Jan. 3 in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan, saying the Spanish oil producer sent them letters threatening to seek to block the deal with YPF SA, according to court documents.
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s government seized YPF, the country’s biggest oil producer, from Repsol in April. Last month Repsol sued Chevron Corp. in a federal court in Manhattan, claiming the U.S. oil producer improperly obtained rights to develop Argentine shale and natural gas resources.
“Bridas’s suit has no merit, it is trying to delay the inevitable when it comes to our legal action,” Kristian Rix, a Repsol spokesman, said in a telephone interview from Madrid. This lawsuit has made Repsol “take notice” and they expect to take legal action in the coming days. Mario Calafell, a spokesman for the Bulgheroni brothers, wasn’t immediately available to take phone calls, his assistant said.
Bridas wants a court order stating that the question of YPF’s ownership is for Argentina’s court to decide, according to the lawsuit.
YPF and Bridas agreed on Dec. 28 to invest $1.5 billion to develop shale oil reserves in Patagonia. The partnership plans to drill 130 wells. Bridas has promised to provide as much as $500 million in financing for YPF, “to be repaid in 10 years,” according to the court documents filed in New York.
YPF has granted Bridas access to Argentina’s official currency market for the “payments of imports, debt and interest repayment and dividends to Bridas’s satisfaction,” according to the documents. To stem capital outflows, Fernandez last year banned most purchases of foreign currency by individuals.
Alejandro Di Lazzaro, a YPF spokesman, didn’t reply to phone calls and an e-mail seeking comment.
The case is Bridas International SA v. Repsol SA, 650018/2013, New York State Supreme Court (Manhattan).