Repsol sues Chevron over Argentine shale development

Repsol SA (REP), the Madrid-based oil and gas company, sued Chevron Corp. in federal court in Manhattan, claiming the U.S. competitor improperly obtained rights to develop Argentine shale and natural gas resources.

In a complaint filed today, Repsol accuses Chevron of getting those rights from Buenos Aires-based YPF SA (YPF) in negotiations with officers appointed by Argentina’s government, which expropriated the company, not “legitimate managers” appointed by Repsol as its majority shareholder.

“Chevron nevertheless has assured Argentina and the government-appointed managers that it is willing to overlook this illegal conduct and partner in Argentina’s illegal scheme to deprive Repsol of its rightful interest in the energy assets,” according to the Spanish company’s complaint.

Accusing San Ramon, California-based Chevron of unjust enrichment and interfering with its contractual relations, Repsol seeks a court order blocking Chevron’s development of the Vaca Muerta formation, which holds the equivalent of 23 billion barrels of oil, and other assets, according to Repsol’s complaint.

There is no legal basis for this lawsuit against Chevron Corp. or the unit that signed a memorandum of understanding with YPF in September, said James Craig, a spokesman for the company.

“Chevron Argentina stands by the legitimacy of its MOU,” Craig said in an e-mailed statement. “The company also remains firmly committed to its long-standing business relationship with YPF and to helping Argentina achieve its goal of returning to energy self-sufficiency.”
The case is Repsol SA v. Chevron Corp. (CVX), 12-cv-08799, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).