UPDATE 1-Argentine adopts new rules to attract oil investment
(Adds details of new law, background on Argentina's shale formation)
By Hugh Bronstein
BUENOS AIRES Oct 30 (Reuters) - Argentina has a new energy investment framework aimed at attracting foreign oil companies to the country's vast shale deposits after Congress gave final approval on Thursday to reform measures.
Geologists say Argentina has more natural gas trapped in shale rock than all of Europe, a 774-trillion-cubic-feet bounty that could transform the outlook for Western Hemisphere supply.
The package of new laws, passed by a 130 to 116 vote in the lower house, cuts the minimum investment needed for companies to be exempt from import controls to $250 million from $1 billion.
The same level of investment would also allow oil and gas producers to get around foreign exchange controls by holding on to the hard currency earned from 20 percent of their exports.
Argentina's main shale formation, called Vaca Muerta (Dead Cow), is in the southern Patagonia region.
International companies would love to get their hands on the formation, but many are scarred off by the troubled relationship that President Cristina Fernandez has had with investors. Continuación...