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Argentine Court to Halt YPF Fracking at El Trebol Well in Chubut

March 18 (Bloomberg) -- YPF SA, Argentina’s largest shale oil and gas producer, will be ordered to cease fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, at a well in Chubut province as a local court reviews allegations of water contamination.

Judge Iris Pacheco of Chubut’s Second Labor Court in the city of Comodoro Rivadavia issued a two-page preliminary ruling on March 14 ordering the province and the operator of the well to suspend drilling at the El Trebol 914 well until a final ruling is made, according to a copy of the document obtained by Bloomberg that was confirmed by Silvia de los Santos, a lawyer representing plaintiff Marcelino Pintihue. YPF declined to comment on the ruling in an e-mailed response to questions.

The state-owned company, which produces 20,000 barrels of oil equivalent from shale formations, began operations at El Trebol a year ago as part of a $37 billion expansion through 2018. The well was inaugurated by President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who seized control of YPF from Repsol SA in 2012 on the grounds of underinvestment and output declines.

“The company and the province will be formally notified this week,” De los Santos said in a telephone interview from Comodoro Rivadavia. “Drilling will have to cease immediately.”

Officials at Chubut’s oil and environment ministries didn’t respond to calls seeking comment made after normal business hours.

To contact the reporters on this story: Pablo Gonzalez in Buenos Aires at pgonzalez49@bloomberg.net; Rodrigo Orihuela in Rio de Janeiro at rorihuela@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: James Attwood at jattwood3@bloomberg.net Keith Gosman

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