Spain’s Repsol has sued Chevron Corp. in New York seeking to prevent the US oil giant from developing energy assets in Argentina. The federal lawsuit filed Tuesday follows other legal claims that the Spanish oil company has filed in Madrid and Washington, demanding more than 10 billion dollars in compensation for the majority stake in the YPF oil company that Argentina's government took over in April.
Respol accused Chevron of conspiring with Argentina to act in violation of the company's bylaws.
Chevron was willing to partner in Argentina's scheme to deprive Repsol of its rightful interest in the energy assets, so long as Chevron received an interest in energy assets for itself, Repsol alleged in the lawsuit.
Repsol asked a judge to prevent Chevron from partnering with YPF in developing Argentina's energy assets, as long as government officials are managing the company. The lawsuit also asks for compensatory damages to be determined at trial.
The lawsuit comes a day after Repsol filed a complaint against Argentina at the World Bank's international arbitration forum over the asset seizure.
Chevron's willingness to capitalize on Argentina's expropriation of Repsol's major interest in YPF is in stark contrast with that of other major players in the oil and gas industry, the lawsuit said, citing disapproving comments from the chief executive of France's Total.
Chevron maintains there is no legal basis for the NY lawsuit, and stands by a memorandum of understanding it signed with Argentina to evaluate energy sites for development, spokesman James Craig wrote in an email.
Chevron has had a collaborative relationship with YPF since the early 1990s. The companies agreed in September to jointly develop Argentina's shale reserves the world's third largest after the US and China. Repsol says those reserves in the Vaca Muerta shale basin were discovered while it ran the company, so it deserves to be paid for them.
YPF needs billions of dollars to go after unconventional oil and natural gas like that, but major oil companies have held back from investing, in part, analysts say, because of Repsol's legal threats to sue any international oil company that tries to partner with YPF. Chevron has declined to say how much it will spend on the YPF effort
The lawsuit adds to a handful of high-profile legal battles for Chevron in South America, including its year-long tussle in Brazil following an offshore spill there and a two-decade international fight over rainforest pollution in Ecuador.
The case is Repsol SA v. Chevron Corp in U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 12-cv-8799.