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Argentina names new energy officials

Sergio Lanziani Argentina's energy secretary. The choice of an energy secretary with little shale experience has raised oil-industry eyebrow

By Argus

Petroleumworld 12 11 2019

Sergio Lanziani has become Argentina's energy secretary following the inauguration of President Alberto Fernandez on 10 December.

Lanziani is a nuclear engineer and former provincial energy official from the remote province of Misiones. His appointment has raised oil industry concerns that decision-making on shale development will fall into inexperienced hands. Misiones is home to the 3.2GW Yacyreta binational hydroelectric dam that Argentina shares with Paraguay, but has no oil or gas production.

Fernandez's energy plans include unpegging wholesale electricity prices from the US dollar to insulate consumers from price shocks one of few priorities for the sector announced so far. And he will shift the energy secretariat into the production ministry rather than restore the energy portfolio's ministerial status.

The move away from the economy ministry suggests Lanziani may have a lower profile than his predecessor, Gustavo Lopetegui. Energy was downgraded to a secretariat last year as a cost-cutting measure. Fernandez has not outlined his approach towards the giant Vaca Muerta shale formation in Neuquen province, but he has said shale development is key to Argentina's economic development.

Guillermo Nielsen, a former finance secretary, will become chairman of state-controlled oil company YPF, replacing Miguel Gutierrez, Fernandez has confirmed. Nielsen has been a proponent of proposed legislation to insulate investment in Vaca Muerta from the wider economy, while imposing fiscal incentives to promote shale investment.

Shale development was one of the few economic successes of the 2015-19 presidency of Mauricio Macri, which was marked by high inflation, rising poverty and soaring debt. Shale oil and gas output has climbed in the past year, but shale drilling plummeted amid 90-day price freezes on crude and fuel that ended last month.

Story from Argus Media 12 10 2019


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