MADRID, April 23 Oil major Repsol
warned it could take legal action against companies that invest
in YPF after Argentina seized control of the Spanish company's
energy unit last week.
Argentina expropriated the 51 percent of YPF owned
by Repsol, saying that the company needed to invest more to
address the South American country's energy shortage.
Argentine Planning Minister Julio De Vido approached
Brazil's state-run oil company Petrobras over investment in YPF
last week and plans to contact other foreign oil companies such
as Exxon, Chevron and ConocoPhilips.
"Repsol reserves the right to take legal action against
companies' investment in YPF," a Repsol spokesman said on
Argentina needs hefty foreign investment to help develop its
shale gas reserves, the third largest in the world.
European, U.S. and Mexican officials have all criticized
Argentina's expropriation of YPF, the country's biggest oil
company, but the effects of retaliation may be limited as
Argentina in the past has failed to pay settlements stemming
from international trade disputes.
The only concrete measure Spain has taken so far was to
curtail multimillion-dollar imports of biodiesel from the Latin
In Luxembourg, Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel
Garcia-Margallo was to meet with his European Union counterparts
on Monday and ask them to consider measures against Argentina,
which has said it will not pay Repsol the full price for YPF.
Whatever the outcome of the foreign ministers' meeting
today, no swift action against Argentina is expected, as
Europe's trade ministers would also have to consider any
proposals and, ultimately, it would be up to the European
Commission to decide on sanctions.
Karel De Gucht, the European Union's trade commissioner,
wrote to Argentina last week to express the bloc's "serious
concerns about the overall business and investment climate in
Argentina," singling out the YPF takeover and import curbs for
"The EU keeps open all possible options to address this
matter," his letter read.
Also last week, the European Parliament urged the Commission
to consider reprisals such as the suspension of trade benefits,
mirroring a recent decision by Washington.