Argentina approves hydrocarbon law to woo investors


Argentine lawmakers approved a hydrocarbon law Thursday to attract further investment in its energy sector by offering longer concessions and limiting revenues for its oil rich provinces.

The law grants 25-year concessions for conventional gas exploration, 30 years for offshore resources and 35 years for shale oil and gas, all of which can be extended for up to 10 years.

Argentina is seeking to boost investments in its energy sector, including in its Vaca Muerta shale formation, to reduce reliance on costly energy imports and increase foreign currency reserves.

Oil giants Chevron, Shell (LSE: RDSB.L - news) and Total have already signed deals with state firm YPF.

The government said the law grants Argentina more control over its resources.

"Energy sovereignty is a reality with this law, which creates synergy between the federal government, the provinces and our national oil company YPF," said Juliana Di Tullio, from the ruling Front for Victory party.

Royalties will be capped at 12 percent, and the legislation reduces the share provinces have in the oil industry.

Tullio said the law will "introduce more equality and a more equitable balance between the different regions."

But the opposition slammed the legislation, and said concessions are too long while granting too much power to YPF.

Lawmaker Juan Carlos Zabala accused the government of "exploiting hydrocarbons at any cost."

The law was approved in parliament with 130 votes in favor, 116 against and one in absentia. It overturns a 1967 rule banning exploration of unconventional hydrocarbons.

Vaca Muerta is the world's second largest reserve of shale gas and fourth largest reserve of oil, estimated to contain the equivalent of 27 billion barrels.