Argentina's YPF Said to Resume Crude Exports After Two Years

  • Said to sell 200,000 barrels of Escalante crude to PetroChina
  • Move comes after government announced export subsidy in March

YPF SA is set to export crude oil from Argentina for the first time in two years next month, taking advantage of a new government subsidy.

It was the state-controlled oil company’s first use of an incentive announced last month to spur drilling amid low oil prices. YPF sold 200,000 barrels of Escalante crude to PetroChina Co. as part of a combined 1 million-barrel joint cargo with Pan American Energy LLC, which provided the other 800,000 barrels, according to three people with knowledge of the matter who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to discuss the matter.

The shipment is scheduled to load May 10-20 from Caleta Cordova, Argentina.
YPF, which is based in Buenos Aires, plans to export another cargo in June, and more shipments are likely to follow this year, one of the people said. Argentine refiners are also buying imported crude at prices cheaper than the one the government sets for domestic oil.

“In light of sluggish demand for feedstock from Argentine refineries, the subsidy offers a way for producers to compete internationally while supporting their domestic industry,” Mara Roberts, an analyst with BMI Research in New York, said in an e-mail.

Argentina’s government last month announced it would provide a $7.50-a-barrel subsidy on exported oil as long as the price of Brent crude, the international benchmark, was below $47.50. Brent futures for June delivery settled at $45.74 a barrel Tuesday on ICE Futures Europe.

YPF, the country’s largest refiner, also has crude available because a coker unit was damaged at its La Plata refinery in 2013, limiting its ability to process heavier domestic production. Construction of a new unit is under way and expected to be done at the end of this year. Exports of Escalante are likely to continue until tests on the new unit are concluded in 2017, according to a person familiar with the work.

That could be stymied by a recovery in international crude prices, however, as producers cut global output. Front-month Brent futures have climbed 64 percent from a low of $27.88 in January.

“Given that the subsidy requires benchmark prices to remain under $47.50, it’s unlikely that Argentine producers will be exporting significant quantities for much longer,” Roberts said.

This year, Argentina imported 2 million barrels of oil from Nigeria, and may seek to import another cargo before June, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The Argentine energy producer’s American depositary receipts rose 1.1 percent to $20.01 at 11:07 in New York. The ADRs have surged 27 percent this year.

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