Argentina's Provinces Plan Meeting with Govt to Discuss Hydrocarbons Law

Argentina's association of hydrocarbons producing provinces (OFEPHI) will request a meeting with the government to discuss the problems facing the sector and to begin shaping the new hydrocarbons law, according to a statement from Rio Negro province government.

Planning and public works minister Julio de Vido and President Nestor Kirchner could be the federal government representatives at the meeting, Chubut province government reported.

Representatives from nine of Argentina's provinces met Wednesday and unanimously elected Mendoza province governor Julio Cobos and Chubut province governor Mario Das Neves as the respective president and vice president of OFEPHI.

The provinces that sent representatives to the meeting were Mendoza, Chubut, Formosa, La Pampa, Santa Cruz, Tierra del Fuego, Jujuy, Rio Negro and Salta.

Neuquen province, which produces 54% of Argentina's gas and 30% of its oil, was one of 14 provinces that did not attend the meeting, and in a statement Neuquen's public companies minister Alfredo Esteves said that the meeting had been "defined unilaterally" without consulting the provinces.

"OFEPHI is currently just a branch of the national energy ministry," he said.

Esteves said that Neuquen would evaluate the province's participation in the organization when governor Jorge Sobisch returns from a road trip.

Neuquen province senator Pedro Salvatori sent a bill to both the chamber of deputies and the senate last week proposing that provinces have "control and jurisdiction over [their] natural resources," as reported by Neuquen government's news service.

What he proposes is a modification of clause 124 of national law 17.319, which refers to oil and gas rights but is so broadly defined that it also includes air, flora, fauna and the environment.

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