BUENOS AIRES, May 13 (Reuters) - The governor of Argentina’s Santa Cruz province signed a decree that key oil fields stripped from energy company YPF should be returned now that it is no longer controlled by Spain’s Repsol, local media reported on Sunday.
The restitution, signed on Saturday, still needs the green light from the province’s legislature, media reports said, citing a press statement from the government of the Patagonian, oil-rich Santa Cruz province.
The Argentine Congress approved the nationalization of 51 percent of YPF shares earlier this month, angering the country’s biggest trade partners but drawing broad popular support for the measure in South America’s No. 2 economy.
“We decided to give back, without any conditions, the areas that had been revoked. I‘m convinced that Santa Cruz inhabitants are betting on a recovery of our flagship company and there can’t be split areas,” the pro-government newspaper Tiempo Argentino cited Santa Cruz governor Daniel Peralta as saying.
No government representative was immediately available to comment.
In the run-up to YPF’s nationalization, various Argentine provinces stripped the firm of its concessions.
The decree stipulates exploitation permits for the Los Monos, Cerro Piedra-Cerro Guadal Norte, Los Perales-Las Mesetas, Canadon Vasco and Pico Truncado-El Cordon be returned to YPF, according to the newspaper.
Los Perales represents 8.26 percent of YPF’s national crude production and 3.9 percent of its natural gas production, according to official statistics from January.
The government argued YPF’s nationalization was necessary to sustain an economic boom, boost oil and natural gas output, and tame sky-rocketing fuel imports.
EU and Spanish authorities have struggled to come up with a response. Tough action is difficult against a country that has been shut out of world debt markets and has ignored international fines in previous disputes.