September 5, 2019 / 6:32 PM / 10 days ago

UPDATE 1-Argentine opposition leader: no point in having oil if multinationals take it away

(Updates with details)

MADRID, Sept 5 (Reuters) - Argentina’s Peronist candidate for president, Alberto Fernandez, said on Thursday there was no point in having oil if international companies came to take it away, suggesting a government he led would not be friendly to foreign investors.

“There’s no point in having oil if in order to extract it you have to let multinationals come and take it away,” he said in remarks following a speech at the Spanish parliament in Madrid.

“I don’t have a problem with multinationals but my primary concern is to generate riches for Argentina and the Argentines,” said Fernandez, the main challenger to President Mauricio Macri in the elections in October.

Seven years ago, former populist President Cristina Fernandez - who is Alberto Fernandez’s running mate in this year’s election - expropriated Repsol’s stake in Argentina’s state-owned oil company YPF SA in a move that dented foreign appetite for energy investment in Argentina.

Macri, who was trounced by left-leaning Fernandez in a primary vote last month, has tried to cultivate a pro-business atmosphere to bring investors back to the country to develop energy assets.

Those include Vaca Muerta - a huge reserve about the size of Belgium that could house one of the biggest deposits of unconventional gas and oil in the world.

The country is expected to record an energy trade surplus next year for the first time in a decade, Energy Secretary Gustavo Lopetegui said on Thursday.

Former President Cristina Fernandez targeted Vaca Muerta to reverse Argentina’s energy deficit but the plans were hindered by a lack of infrastructure and lack of investment. (Reporting By Andres Gonzalez in Madrid and Cassandra Garrison in Buenos Aires Writing by Sonya Dowsett Editing by Frances Kerry)

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