Argentina's YPF cuts staffing at Buenos Aires refinery amid consumption drop

BUENOS AIRES, April 29 (Reuters) - A Buenos Aires crude oil refinery operated by Argentine state-controlled energy firm YPF is running with a minimal level of workers due to a drop in consumption and a lack of storage space amid a crash in global oil prices during the coronavirus pandemic, a spokesman said on Wednesday.

The spokesman for YPF said the company’s Plaza Huincul Refinery, which normally produces about 28,000 barrels per day (bpd), was operating at minimum staff levels, but had not entirely halted production. A methanol refinery that was part of the complex continued to operate as normal, he added.

A return to full staff levels “will depend on how the demand for fuel evolves, which, in turn, is affected by social isolation measures,” he said, without offering details on how much current production had been impacted.

Another Argentina refinery operated by Brazilian company Raizen said earlier in April it temporarily stopped production at its 93,000 bpd refinery in the town of Dock Sud, local media reported.

Oil company Refinor SA has reportedly also suspended operations at its 25,000 bpd facility in Campo Duran in the country’s north, according to trade publication Industrial Info.

Spokespeople for the companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Argentina, home to the expansive Vaca Muerta shale deposit, plans to issue a decree setting a higher local oil barrel price to protect the domestic industry from being further decimated by the collapse in global prices and slumping fuel demand due to the coronavirus, Reuters reported last week.

Reporting by Cassandra Garrison; additional reporting by Walter Bianchi; editing by Chris Reese