December 9, 2010 / 2:01 PM / in 8 years

YPF Argentina refineries unaffected by output halt

* YPF output halted at several energy fields since Monday

* Company’s three refineries working at full capacity

* Crude oil stocks estimated to last another 7 to 9 days

BUENOS AIRES, Dec 9 (Reuters) - Argentine energy firm YPF (YPFD.BA) has another seven to nine days’ worth of stocks to supply oil refineries if a union conflict that forced a partial halt to output continues, a spokesman said Thursday.

On Monday, the unit of Spain’s Repsol (REP.MC) suspended production at energy fields in Santa Cruz province, a region that makes up nearly a third of the company’s total crude output, recently reported at about 250,000 barrels per day.

YPF is Argentina’s biggest energy company.

“Only after ten to twelve days would we start to notice (an impact on the refineries),” Alejandro Di Lazzaro, a spokesman for YPF, told Reuters.

“Our three refineries are working at 100 percent of capacity, there is absolutely no shortfall in crude oil at the refineries,” he added.

The oil extracted in Santa Cruz is normally shipped to YPF’s refinery in La Plata, the capital of Buenos Aires province. The company also refines crude at plants in Neuquen and Mendoza provinces. For factbox see [ID:nN29251266]

A union official in Mendoza said the company’s refinery was operating normally.

YPF’s senior employees in Santa Cruz and nearby Chubut province went on strike last week to demand higher wages, according to local media, which have also reported that two unions are fighting over membership criteria.

The company said violent incidents broke out last weekend, forcing it to halt operations in northern Santa Cruz to ensure the safety of its staff.

Production in Chubut province quickly returned to normal.

According to Energy Secretariat data, Santa Cruz accounted for about 29 percent of YPF’s crude output and 8 percent of natural gas production in 2009.

YPF produced an average 248,000 bpd of crude this year, a company executive was quoted as telling the country’s state news agency. (Reporting by Hilary Burke; Additional reporting by Magdalena Morales; Editing by John Picinich)

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