Argentina’s Energy Secretary Daniel Cameron will propose that oil prices for export be raised to 63 dollars per barrel from the current 42 dollars, the Argentine newspaper La Nacion reported Sunday on its website.
The proposal was ready two weeks ago, La Nacion said, without saying how it obtained the information.
A decade-long freeze on oil prices, which set the maximum producers could charge for exports at 42 dollars per barrel, has hindered investment in the oil and gas industry Argentina while imports have soared.
Production dropped to 35.3 million cubic meters in 2010 from 45.4 million in 2001, according to data published by the Buenos Aires-based Argentina Oil and Gas Institute.
The Argentine government blames the oil companies for the fall in production and is currently clashing with the largest of them YPF, demanding they make long term investment responding to Argentina’s interests and “not to short term financial profits”.
It has also encouraged, as part of its strategy, to have oil provinces cancel YPF oil and gas concessions unless they present strong viable investment plans that will increase production.
Argentine fuel imports more than doubled in 2011 from a year earlier to 9.4 billion dollars, contributing to the narrowing of the country’s trade surplus to a one-year low of 280 million dollars in December.
Blocked from international credit markets since a 2001 default on 95 billion dollars of sovereign bonds, the government of President Cristina Fernandez depends on its trade surplus to bring dollars into the economy and build central bank reserves.