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Repsol to Settle for $5bn over Argentina Oil Asset Heist

Spanish oil giant Repsol is preparing to sign a $5 billion settlement agreement in the coming days with the government of Argentina over the 2012 seizure of its local assets.

The announcement, reported by Reuters, comes less than a week after Repsol said its assets seized by the government of Argentina were worth $6.8 billion, down from $7.4 billion recorded by Repsol until the week prior.

In 2012, Argentina expropriated Repsol’s 51% stake in oil company YPF, with Argentine President Cristina Fernandez nationalizing the shares on the justification that the Spanish company was not investing enough in Argentina.  

Related Article: Latin America Energy Advisory – 7th February 2014

The expropriation sparked diplomatic tensions between Spain and Argentina, and Repsol vowed that it would seek at least $10.5 billion in compensation for its former unit. However, in November, Repsol agreed to Argentina’s compensation proposal of $5 billion in government bonds.

Repsol’s heavy debt burden since the government of Argentina seized its core assets there has led it to divest other assets recently, including the $200 million sale of a Basque power plant to BP Plc in October.

In a statement to stock market authorities on Friday, Repsol said it valued the seized shares at that amount. "The financial results for 2013 will therefore include provisions of 1.279 billion euros after tax," it said.

Repsol reported net profits of €384m in the third quarter of 2013 - down by nearly 49pc from a year earlier, citing disruptions to drilling in Libya and a weak market in Europe.

Related Article: Bitter Irony in Venezuela's Oil Sector

Meanwhile, Repsol is preparing to invest another $4 billion in oil and gas projects in Venezuela between 2013 and 2022, hoping to increase net oil output in the country from around 40,000 barrels per day currently to 100,000 bpd in the next decade.  

Repsol and Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA run mature oilfields in the east and west of the country that produce about 40,000 bpd, but the country is sitting on top of some 211 billion barrels of proven oil reserves and the government is looking to draw in more foreign investors to boost production to 6 million bpd by the end of 2019.

Repsol—which already runs an offshore natural gas project with PDVSA—is also part of a consortium eyeing Venezuela’s prolific Orinoco extra heavy crude belt, in which it owns an 11% stake, with PDVSA owning a 60% stake. India's Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) also holds an 11% stake in the project while the Indian Oil Corp (IOC) holds a 3.5% stake.

By Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com




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