News & Analysis
Desperate Argentina Now Seen Begging for Oil Investment
Argentine Vice President Amado Boudou on Tuesday urged US companies to invest in YPF, the nationalized oil company that Argentina recently expropriated from Spain's Repsol ... "We are very optimistic in terms of what is coming for the Argentine economy in general and the hydrocarbons sector specifically" Boudou said at a Conference on the Americas at the US State Department in Washington. Far from scaring off foreign investment because of the expropriation, the government of President Cristina Fernandez has set the framework for "excellent opportunities for those who want to invest in joint ventures and possibilities of joint work in the energy sector," he said. The Cristina Fernandez administration is gambling that the discovery in May 2011 of a giant oilfield in Argentina's Patagonia would be too tempting for foreign oil giants to ignore. YPF needs the know-how and the capital to fully exploit the oil fields in the south-western Nequen province, known as Vaca Muerta (Dead Cow), which according to official estimates holds 150 million barrels of oil. YPF is "open to capital and the possibility of working together with public or private companies in Argentina or abroad," Boudou said. – Merco Press
Dominant Social Theme: Don't cry for Argentina. It's all under control ...
Free-Market Analysis: Are Argentina's top officials having second thoughts about their expropriation of Spain's Argentine oil-producer? It would seem that way from the above news report via Merco Press.
If the move was as wildly destructive as people think it may have been, then this posture would tend to confirm the idea that one of the world's more powerful and influential states is simply spinning out of control.
The results may be truly catastrophic, not just for Latin America but for the larger, struggling world.
This boom may well be ending – or certainly growing long-in-the-tooth after a decade or more.
Although the Argentine expropriation of Repsol made major shock waves, the Argentine government under President Cristina Fernandez has portrayed it as a judicious and necessary gambit.
Many other observers regardless of political affiliation have branded the move as a shallow populist one that will bring disaster to Argentina and environs.
As the predictions of damage mount, there is more speculation that Fernandez's action may bring down not only her own government but other regional governments as well.
These predictions involve inevitably a peso devaluation that will set off a dollar-withdrawal frenzy in big regional banks. Real estate prices – radically inflated after a decade of monetary expansion – may well plunge. The results could affect large swaths of South America.
Countries that could be affected include Uruguay, Brazil, Chile and Peru among others – all countries that have pursued moderate market-based policies and have benefitted from the South American industrial and monetary boom.
Meanwhile, Repsol doesn't seem apt to surrender. Here's more from the article.
YPF is "open to capital and the possibility of working together with public or private companies in Argentina or abroad," Boudou said.
Last week the Argentine president signed a bill expropriating 51% of YPF stock from Repsol, its majority shareholder, sealing a measure that has roiled the country's trade ties with Europe.
Cristina Fernandez has argued that the move was justified because Argentina faces sharp rises in its bill for imported oil, and Repsol has failed to make agreed investments needed to expand domestic production.
In Madrid, a Repsol spokesman Tuesday said the company has warned its competitors that they will face legal action if they invest in YPF.
"The idea is to protect the assets that were confiscated in Argentina until the situation is resolved in a satisfactory way for the parties that are involved," the spokesman said.
Conclusion: A cascading crisis in South America may still seem likely ...