Eight years have passed since the Argentine government expropriated YPF from Repsol, but that nationalization decided by Cristina Kirchner continues to generate problems: today it was learned that the New York justice system was ratified as competent in a trial that could cause it to lose between 3,500 and 12,000 million of dollars to the third Latin American economy.
Argentina compensated Repsol-YPF with $ 5 billion in 2012 for keeping 51% of the company's shares, but in April 2015 the firm Burford Capital Limited was brought before the US court , and filed a lawsuit against the State Argentine claiming that it did not fulfill the commitments made with the holders of YPF shares.
Burford is a mega-law firm specialized in acquiring trials for little money with the expectation of earning much more money years later. This is exactly the case with YPF: two firms, Petersen Energía and Petersen Energía Inversora, owned 25% of YPF's shares at a time when it was in the hands of Spain's Repsol. At the same time, a trial is taking place in Spain to determine if Burford's purchase of Petersen was legal.
Argentina's argument that Burford's lawsuit should be heard in Argentine courts, under the argument that YPF was expropriated through local law, did not convince Judge Loretta Preska.
As Sebastián Maril, an energy specialist, analyzed in Clarín , "Argentina and YPF maintain that the same instruments under which the oil company sold its shares in New York in the 1990s when it was privatized" enable the issue to be resolved in the courts of the South American country.
That could happen from 2016, recalls Maril: "The Mauricio Macri government managed to convince the judge that the country had changed and that Argentina now offered an independent court (...). However, during the period of allegations and exchange of briefs there was a change of president in Argentina and the plaintiffs insist that the country once again does not offer judicial guarantees. " The judge ruled that, "although Argentina has independent courts, the case must remain in New York and the parties must inform it on June 19 how they plan to proceed."
"Argentina and YPF could face economic damage that is between 3,500 and 12,100 million dollars," added Maril.
The extreme drop in the price of oil is also affecting YPF, which lost a very important part of its value, in part due to the loss of expectations for what may be generated in the Vaca Muerta field, in Argentine Patagonia. Vaca Muerta is the second unconventional gas reserve in the world and the fourth for oil, but its operating costs are high. As the price of crude oil falls, the possibility that the field will become a good business moves away.
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