BUENOS AIRES, May 20 (Reuters) - Oil production in Argentina fell 0.7 percent in March from a year earlier to 2.62 million cubic meters despite an increase in output by the state-run energy firm YPF, government data showed on Wednesday.
Data from the energy secretariat showed the 1.4 percent decline in oil output in 2014, when a slump in private production outweighed gains by YPF, extended into the first three months of the year.
Domestic production has dropped steadily over the past decade from a peak of 855,000 barrels per day (bpd) to the current 550,000 bpd level due to a sustained lack of investment in the sector.
Argentina began running an energy trade deficit in 2011 and President Cristina Fernandez’s government nationalized YPF a year later, seizing assets from Spanish energy major Repsol . Investment at YPF doubled in 2014, in part through debt issuance.
YPF’s oil output rose 3.6 percent in March to 1.11 million cubic meters, while its gas production climbed 13.8 percent, the data showed. Overall gas production nationwide was up 3.8 percent compared with a year earlier.
YPF estimates $200 billion of investments are needed over the next 10 years to exploit the South American country’s vast but barely tapped Vaca Muerta shale oil and gas formation that lies under the windswept plains of Patagonia. (Reporting by Eliana Raszewski; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Richard Chang)