UPDATE 2-Argentina buys 950,000 barrels of crude as output falls

miércoles 11 de marzo de 2015 16:49 GYT

(Adds details more quotes, context)

By Eliana Raszewski

BUENOS AIRES, March 11 (Reuters) - Argentina's state-owned Enarsa has bought 950,000 barrels of crude oil to make up for a declining production levels in the southern Neuquen province, the president of Shell Argentina said on Wednesday.

Juan Jose Aranguren said the shipment would land in early April and be distributed to refineries owned by the state-run energy company YPF, Petrobras Argentina, Shell and Axion.

Domestic production has dropped steadily over the past decade from a peak of 855,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 1998 to the current 550,000 bpd level, a trend Aranguren blamed on weak investments due to low profits in Argentina's energy sector. The government of leftist President Cristina Fernandez sets the price paid for locally produced oil.

"In the first week of April, a shipment of Nigerian crude needed to offset the diminishing supply of crude from the Neuquen Basin will arrive," Aranguren told reporters at the launch of a new gas station in the outskirts of Buenos Aires.

"The industry reached an agreement to import a large shipment of crude, in this case 950,000 barrels ... and distribute that at a ratio of what each refinery can absorb," Aranguren told reporters.

Energy giants Chevron Corp, Petronas and Shell have made foothold investments in Argentina's energy industry, but heavy-handed state controls have kept them from fully committing.

Production maintained its downward trend in 2014, falling 1.4 percent as a slump in private production outweighed gains by YPF. It sank another 1.1 percent in January compared with a year earlier.   Continuación...