YPF takeover may cut Argentine gov't spending on LNG

jueves 26 de abril de 2012 19:24 ART

* YPF nationalization expected to become law next month

* YPF to then take over role of state company Enarsa

By Alejandro Lifschitz

BUENOS AIRES, April 26 (Reuters) - Argentina's takeover of YPF will mean the end of the state energy company that handles the fast-growing liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports, a ruling party lawmaker said, a change that could save the Treasury billions of dollars in subsidies.

Just before the Senate approved the government's plan for taking control of YPF from current majority holder Repsol late on Wednesday, clearing the way for the bill to be passed by the lower house next week, Senator Anibal Fernandez said the nationalized company will take charge of LNG imports.

Those purchases are now in the hands of state energy company Enarsa, which gets its budget from the government and has $2.3 billion officially earmarked in 2012 for LNG purchases. Enarsa also buys natural gas from neighboring Bolivia.

"Once this law comes into effect, YPF will surely absorb it (Enarsa)," Fernandez said during Wednesday's night's Senate debate. "There will not be any more Enarsa if we have a company specifically positioned to be take care of this issue."

Fernandez did not say whether the State would fund the purchase of LNG when YPF assumes the role of importer. But analysts believe the surge in energy imports and the dollar shortage in the country are a great temptation for the Treasury to be released from that burden.

"This is where you will see whether YPF follows a strategy combining a state vision but with a private management style, or whether it starts doing this kind of business," said Buenos Aires-based energy analyst Victor Bronstein.   Continuación...