YPF halts some Argentine operations due to unrest

BUENOS AIRES, Dec 6 (Reuters) – Argentine energy company
YPF YPFd.BA, a unit of Spain’s Repsol (REP.MC), has suspended
production at several sites in a Patagonian province after
unruly labor protests, a company spokesman said on Monday.

The shutdown by Argentina’s biggest energy firm affected
energy fields in Santa Cruz province, a region that makes up
nearly a third of the company’s crude production. YPF’s total
output was recently reported at about 250,000 barrels per day.

The spokesman declined to specify the impact on overall
output of crude oil and natural gas.

Local media reported that YPF’s employees in Santa Cruz and
nearby Chubut province went on strike last week to demand
higher wages. Skirmishes broke out over the weekend between
workers who had joined the protest and those who had not.

In a statement, YPF said it decided to interrupt energy
production in the north of Santa Cruz province as a result of
the “violent incidents over the weekend.”

It said operations in Chubut were starting to resume but
that production in Santa Cruz would remain on hold until the
situation returned to normal.

“Output activity in Chubut’s Manantiales Behr field is
beginning to normalize,” YPF said. “But the company confirms
its decision not to renew operations in Santa Cruz because the
safety of company employees cannot be guaranteed.”

Santa Cruz provincial Gov. Daniel Peralta was working to
resume dialogue between company officials and employees, YPF
said, adding that Peralta was also taking necessary measures to
avoid new skirmishes.

Union leaders were not immediately available to comment.

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.

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