Argentina's YPF purchases majority stake in natgas supplier‏

30 November 2012 22:09  [Source: ICIS news]

MEDELLIN, Columbia (ICIS)--Argentina’s YPF has purchased a 54.67% stake in Gas Argentino, the holding company that controls Metrogas, Argentina's largest natural gas distributor, the state-run energy company said on Friday.

YPF said it would have an indirect 70% stake in Metrogas once the acquisition from British-based BG Group is approved by local regulators.

Metrogas currently provides natural gas to around 2m people in the Buenos Aires metropolitan region, YPF said.

“Metrogas plays a key role in the country’s energy matrix,” said YPF. “The association between YPF and the national state will allow the company to recapture its value, efficiency and strong market performance.”

Meanwhile, the country’s natural gas supplies have become so stretched that petrochemical producers face further annual cuts in supplies this winter.

These shortages persist even though Argentina has large reserves of both conventional and non-conventional natural gas.

According to experts, government customs regulations and currency controls continue to discourage the foreign investment that the sector needs to exploit its gas reserves.

The Argentine government and YPF took joint action on Wednesday by announcing a 44% increase in wellhead natural gas prices.

Wellhead prices would rise to $7.50/MMBtu, from the current price ceiling of about $5/MMBtu, YPF said.

“This new price is a major step forward that will encourage production and investment in the energy sector,” said YPF president Miguel Galuccio.

By: Simon West

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