Repsol to Lift Profit Margin 10% on LatAm Diversification

Spanish oil company Repsol YPF plans to increase its total exploration and production (E&P) margin by 10% in the period 2002-2007, mainly due to higher profitability and production in Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, Ecuador and Brazil, the company said in a presentation to discuss its strategy for the period. "This greater geographical diversification will go hand in hand with the consolidation of production in Argentina," the company said in a statement.

Oil and gas production in Argentina at the end of the 2003-2007 period will account for only 56% of the company's total production, compared to 72% in 2002. Repsol YPF plans to invest 18.8bn euros (US$21.6bn) globally from 2003-2007, of which 26% (4.9bn euros) will be spent in Argentina, 28% (5.26bn euros) in Spain, and the remainder in the rest of the world including other Latin American countries, the statement said.

Among key growth driving projects in the next few years is Trinidad and Tobago, where production in the 2002-2007 period is expected to grow at an annual rate of 44%. Repsol YPF plans to start up production of its fourth train at Trinidad's Atlantic LNG project in 2005, when production from its 10%-owned Albacora Leste field in Brazil is also slated to start up crude production. In Venezuela, the company plans to develop its Quiamare field as well as its Yucal Placer and Barrancas gas projects, while in Ecuador, crude production should increase with the recent start up of the OCP heavy crude pipeline.

In Mexico, Repsol YPF will develop the Reynosa-Monterrey block in the Burgos basin under its Multiple Service Contract (MSC) with state oil company Pemex. Beyond 2007, Repsol YPF aims to develop a fifth Atlantic LNG train in Trinidad and start producing gas on block 1 of the Deltana Platform in Venezuela in partnership with UK company BP. Offshore, high-risk projects in Argentina and Cuba are also in the study phase. Meanwhile, Repsol YPF is maintaining plans to develop its Pacific LNG gas export project in Bolivia, but production is not expected to come online until after 2007, the company's COO Ramon Blanco said during the presentation. "We continue to work on it, we are in the process of evaluating the Margarita field in partnership with [UK company] BG and [Argentina's] Pan American," Blanco said. The company plans to finish evaluating Margarita from May-June 2004, and continue negotiations with the Bolivian government, Blanco said. The new Bolivian government has invited oil companies to participate in discussions about possible changes to the hydrocarbons law, although so far there have not been any breaches of contract with Repsol YPF, he added.

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