Argentina's state-run energy company YPF said this week it will fight a legal claim seek more than US$500 million in damages for rescinding natural gas export contracts in 2009. YPF shall use all its legal resources to defend its interests and those of its shareholders, the company said in a filing with the Buenos Aires Stock Exchange.
YPF said an arbitration court notified it on Tuesday that it must pay damages of US$184.5 million to Brazilian electric utility AES Uruguaiana Emprendimientos (AESU) and US$319.1 million to Transportadora de Gas del Mercosur, a Buenos Aires-based company that delivers gas to Uruguay.
YPF said it considers the claims null, according to the statement.
The company has been fighting the lawsuit on grounds that the Argentine government at the time obliged it to make the cuts by telling it to redirect exports to the domestic market and limit any other exports of gas. The government first made the call in 2004 as declining gas output and rising demand brought shortages within the country, which have continued since.
YPF added in this latest statement that an Argentine federal court in December upheld its appeal against the claims. However, federal court ruling is not yet final, YPF said. This means that it must continue to fight the suit.
In previous arguments, YPF it appealed the government's request to halt exports but did not disobey on concerns it could lose export permits or face other penalties. YPF has called the government's decision a force majeure, meaning that it's not liable for meeting the obligations of its gas export contracts.
AESU is controlled by US energy company AES, while TGM is backed by Argentina's Techint, France's Total and other companies.