* Argentina turns up heat on YPF to boost production
* Chubut province could take away two concessions on Weds
* Areas represent 7 pct of YPF's total production-govt data
(Recasts and writes through)
By Karina Grazina and Alejandro Lifschitz
BUENOS AIRES, March 13 Argentina's YPF
looked set to lose two concessions on Wednesday,
equivalent to 7 percent of its national output, after the
country's biggest oil-producing province said the energy firm
had failed to meet an ultimatum on investment plans.
YPF, controlled by Spain's Repsol, has become
embroiled in increasingly heated disputes with authorities amid
pressure to raise output as Argentina's fast-growing economy
spurs energy demand and costly fuel imports eat into the
nation's cherished trade surplus.
Chubut province, run by an ally of center-left President
Cristina Fernandez, had demanded that YPF submit by Tuesday
night an investment plan to boost flagging oil and natural gas
Argentina's biggest energy firm instead responded with a
formal defense of its actions that affirmed investments worth
hundreds of millions of dollars in the province, an industry
source with knowledge of the matter said.
"We will likely take back (the concessions) because the
report that YPF presented did not meet our expectations," a
spokesman for Chubut's provincial government told Reuters.
He said earlier in the day the province was on track for a
rescission, adding that a public event was scheduled on
Wednesday at 6 p.m.
Adding to YPF's woes, the government has launched an
antitrust probe against the company to investigate accusations
that the firm pushes fuel prices up by limiting supplies. It
also urged YPF last week to withhold dividend payments and
reinvest those funds instead.
In reponse to Chubut, which produces about 30 percent of
Argentina's crude oil, YPF argued it had met investment targets
set by law for the fields of El Trebol-Escalante and Campamento
Central-Bella Vista Este-Canadon Perdido, according to the
industry source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
YPF also said it was investing and producing more than most
other energy firms in the province and that it was "striking"
that it had only been called to task when the majority of fields
in Chubut had seen a decline in production.
YPF is also facing similar pressure from other provinces.
Santa Cruz province, which extracts about 20 percent of
Argentine oil has asked YPF to justify its lack of investment in
more than 20 energy fields. The industry source said the
province threatened on Monday to take away concessions to the
Barranca Yankowsky, Cerro Piedras-Cerro Guadal Norte and Los
Monos fields, giving the company 24 hours to respond.
These provinces make up just 0.7 percent of YPF's national
production, official data shows.
The source said YPF has asked Santa Cruz to provide details
of its findings in these areas and for more time so that it can
YPF said it invested $350 million in Chubut last year and
$380 million in Santa Cruz, above levels in the two prior years.
The company has said its production fell last year due to
protracted labor disputes in the Patagonia region, which cut
output by 9.6 million barrels of oil equivalent.
(Additional reporting by Guido Nejamkis; Writing by Hilary
Burke; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)