UPDATE 1-Repsol sues Chevron in U.S. court over YPF deal

Wed Dec 5, 2012 3:56am IST

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Dec 4 (Reuters) - Repsol filed a U.S. lawsuit to block Chevron Corp's deal with Argentina's YPF , ramping up the Spanish oil company's legal response to the loss of its assets in Argentina.

Repsol is making good on a threat to launch legal action against any company that partners with YPF after Argentina seized control of Repsol's majority stake in the energy company in April.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in New York on Tuesday, comes a day after Repsol filed a complaint against Argentina at the World Bank's international arbitration forum over the asset seizure.

"Chevron's willingness to capitalize on Argentina's expropriation of Repsol's major interest in YPF is in stark contrast with that of other major players in the oil and gas industry," the lawsuit said, citing disapproving comments from the chief executive of France's Total.

A Spanish court agreed last month to consider a Repsol lawsuit against Chevron.

A Chevron spokesman said the San Ramon, California-based company did not have an immediate comment on the U.S. action.

The lawsuit adds to a handful of high-profile legal battles for Chevron in South America, including its year-long tussle in Brazil following an offshore spill there and a two-decade international fight over rainforest pollution in Ecuador.

At the center of the Argentina dispute is YPF's discovery in late 2011 of the Vaca Muerta ("Dead Cow") formation, which contains an estimated 23 billion barrels of oil equivalent.

Repsol had initiated, through YPF, negotiations with several potential partners on Vaca Muerta, including Chevron, the lawsuit said, but before a Chevron-YPF partnership could be consummated, Argentina took steps in April to take over the majority stake.

The case is Repsol SA v. Chevron Corp in U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 12-cv-8799.

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