March 1, 2012 / 12:05 PM / 6 years ago

Spain minister in Argentina over Repsol row -sources

MADRID, March 1 (Reuters) - Spain’s industry minister flew to Argentina this week to cool a row between the government there and Spanish oil major Repsol, after a report Buenos Aires could seize its local unit to make it increase output.

Two sources close to the ministry said Jose Manuel Soria met his opposite number in the capital.

“The minister was in Buenos Aires on Tuesday and Wednesday and met with his counterpart in the Argentine government to try and calm tensions,” said one of the sources.

On Thursday President Cristina Fernandez is due to speak to Congress in Buenos Aires and media reports suggest she may announce a policy move on oil company YPF, which is majority-owned by Repsol but partly state held.

YPF has been targeted by Fernandez’s administration as part of a wider drive to push big energy companies to boost oil and natural gas output as fuel imports soar.

Officials have accused YPF and other oil firms of overcharging for diesel.

A report that some in Fernandez’s government would like to renationalise YPF hit its shares late last month.

Critics in the energy sector blame government intervention and political uncertainty for discouraging investment in oil exploration.

Soria’s visit coincides with that of Repsol chairman Antonio Brufau. (Reporting by Carlos Ruano; Writing by Nigel Davies; Editing by Fiona Ortiz)

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