UPDATE 1-Argentina's YPF 1st qtr net profit slightly lower

Thu May 9, 2013 7:31pm EDT

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BUENOS AIRES May 9 (Reuters) - Argentina's state-controlled energy company, YPF, said on Thursday its first-quarter net profit fell 2.8 percent from a year ago mainly due to a deferred income tax payment.

The company said net profit slipped to 1.26 billion pesos ($246 million) in the January-March period. Capital expenditures doubled to 4.28 billion pesos, and revenues rose 25.5 percent to 18.63 billion pesos.

Argentina's center-left government seized a majority stake in YPF from Spain's Repsol in May 2012, arguing the company did not invest enough to sustain oil and natural gas production in an economy where energy demand had soared.

Repsol has denied this and sued to get compensated for its expropriated stake.

YPF told the Buenos Aires stock exchange that crude oil production slipped 0.7 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, while natural gas output fell a steeper 3.7 percent. The production of refined products rose, however.

Production costs surged 24.9 percent in the quarter, roughly in line with private estimates for consumer inflation.

In April, flash floods sparked a fire inside YPF's La Plata refinery - the country's largest - which had a capacity of 28,500 cubic meters of crude per day. The blaze severely damaged a coke oven and YPF said on Thursday that a new coke facility would not come online until 2015.

"We expect that to compensate for the missing production, we will need to import additional volumes of fuel to continue to satisfy domestic demand," the company statement read.

YPF aims to boost its oil and natural gas production 32 percent by the end of 2017.

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