Argentine judge lifts block on LNG purchases from Spain's GNF

BUENOS AIRES Thu Nov 21, 2013 9:21am EST

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BUENOS AIRES Nov 21 (Reuters) - An Argentine judge reversed a ruling banning the purchase of liquid natural gas (LNG) from Spain's Gas Natural Fenosa (GNF) after Argentina's consumers' union admitted the country needed the fuel.

The ban was imposed by a federal judge last month while a lawsuit filed by the consumer group made its way through the courts. Argentina's state-run energy company YPF had said it would continue to buy LNG from GNF, its top supplier, despite the ban.

In its lawsuit, the consumers' union alleged a conflict of interest in the purchases. Another Spanish firm, Repsol , owns a 30 percent stake in GNF and also holds a stake in YPF, which brokers the fuel purchases on behalf of fellow state-run energy company Enarsa.

"We asked for the injunction to be lifted, but the lawsuit continues," the consumers' union president, Fernando Blanco, told Reuters on Thursday. "We don't want to stand in the way of public opinion, and there is no gas in Argentina."

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

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

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