MADRID Spanish oil major Repsol (REP.MC) hopes to reach an agreement with Argentina on compensation for the nationalization of Repsol's YPF subsidiary, the company's chairman said in an interview published on Sunday.
Argentinean President Cristina Fernandez seized control of YPF in April, accusing Repsol of investing too little and making the Latin American country overly reliant on expensive imports.
"I still believe and hope that we can reach an agreement over YPF," Repsol Chairman Antonio Brufau said in an interview with El Pais newspaper. "I hope we can reach an agreement to compensate us for that which belonged to us."
Repsol sued Argentina in May through a U.S. court as part of an effort to recover more than $10 billion from the country in a case that could drag on for years.
Brufau said the company would seek arbitration at the World Bank's International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). Six months must pass before ICSID will consider arbitration in any dispute, to allow negotiations between the two parties.
Those six months have now expired and it's up to Repsol to request arbitration in a process that experts say could take more than a year.
"We will go to the ICSID when we see best, but we can withdraw the request if agreement is reached," he said.
The comments echoed sentiments expressed by Spain's Foreign Minister Jose Maria Garcia Margallo on Thursday, when he said that he hoped to reach a solution soon.
"There are conversations between the Argentinean and Spanish governments about the matter every single day," he said on Spanish television.
The newspaper interview came as the Ibero-American Summit, an event attended by leaders from Portugal, Spain and Latin American countries, ended in Cadiz, southern Spain.
Argentinean President Fernandez did not attend the event, sending her vice-president in her place.
(Reporting By Sonya Dowsett and Carlos Ruano; Editing by David Goodman)