UPDATE 4-Argentina aims to stop importing light crude this year -minister

jueves 12 de mayo de 2016 15:27 GYT

(Adds details, quotes, comments from companies)

By Marianna Parraga

HOUSTON May 12 (Reuters) - Argentina aims to stop importing light crude this year and improve domestic refining operations as it moves further down the road toward energy self-sufficiency, Energy Minister Juan Jose Aranguren said on Thursday.

Operators working in Argentina will continue to export oil, mostly Escalante heavy crude, he told reporters on the sidelines of an industry conference in Houston.

But more refining of domestic light crudes and larger and more regular gas supplies from Bolivia would help the South American country cut imports of costly liquified natural gas (LNG), gasoil and crude.

The Argentine government is in talks with local refineries, encouraging them to buy more domestic light crude and import less, after a 200,000-barrel cargo of a rare light crude was exported last month to drain inventories that were not bought by state-run oil firm YPF, he said.

"Locally produced crude should be given priority in order to avoid a reduction in jobs and tax revenue," Aranguren said. "The domestic price goes from $55 to $67.50 per barrel depending on the crude type, which means it would be convenient to sell production in the domestic market."

President Mauricio Macri promises to increase investment in the oil sector, particularly in renewable energy and the sprawling Vaca Muerta shale formation in Patagonia, as part of his campaign to reverse Argentina's status as a net oil importer.

Argentina has been running an energy deficit since 2011, draining foreign exchange reserves.   Continuación...