Argentina court blocks top LNG supplier from tender -report

BUENOS AIRES Wed Oct 16, 2013 11:45am EDT

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BUENOS AIRES Oct 16 (Reuters) - An Argentine court has blocked the country's top liquid natural gas supplier, Spain's Gas Natural Fenosa, from participating in a $4.5 billion tender for the fuel, a local newspaper reported on Wednesday.

The ruling could complicate the energy-deficient nation's ability to keep its power plants running.

Until a court rules on whether GNF has potential conflicts of interests, the company will be unable to participate in tenders to provide 100 shipments of liquid natural gas for 2014 and 2015 that the Argentine state-run oil firm YPF has launched, the newspaper Clarin said.

The Argentine Consumers' Union, a local non-governmental organization, has filed a lawsuit noting another Spanish firm, Repsol owns a 30 percent share in GNF while also holding a stake in YPF, which brokers the fuel purchases on behalf of fellow state-run energy company Enarsa.

The Argentine Consumers' Union was not immediately available for comment and a spokesman for YPF declined to comment.

Repsol holds an 11.82 percent stake in YPF following Argentina's nationalization of Respol's controlling assets in the state-owned firm last year.

Fuel imports have been growing in Argentina due to a persistent fall in local production and an increase in demand, especially for gas.

Argentina's fuel imports rose 31.9 percent in August 2013 from the same month last year. Led by liquid natural gas purchases, imports totaled $942 million, according to data from Argentina's energy secretary.

GNF was responsible for about 70 percent of the country's imports of the fuel this year and last, the paper said.

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