* Argentine LNG imports have surged in recent years
* State-controlled oil company says shale also discussed
* YPF aims to boost domestic production, reduce imports
MOSCOW, Sept 4 Russia's Gazprom said
on Tuesday it had discussed supplying liquefied natural gas
(LNG) to Argentina's state-controlled YPF ,
which eventually wants to reduce fuel imports by boosting
YPF, nationalized by President Cristina Fernandez earlier
this year, said the talks at the Russian group's Moscow office
had also included developing the South American country's vast
shale energy resources.
YPF hopes to lure deep-pocketed partners to invest at the
Vaca Muerta shale site, which could hold enough energy resources
to double Argentina's oil and natural gas output within a
"The parties discussed the possibility of liquefied natural
gas supply to Argentina from the Gazprom Group portfolio,"
Gazprom said about the meeting between its chief executive,
Alexei Miller, and his counterpart at YPF, Miguel Galuccio.
Gazprom, which is exploring for natural gas in Venezuela as
part of a Russian consortium, gave no other details.
Galuccio, who said last week that YPF would need to invest
$37.2 billion over the next five years to meet its production
targets, called Tuesday's meeting "another open door where we
can advance on our ambitious goals," according to a company
Latin America's third-biggest economy, Argentina has been
stepping up imports of LNG in recent years to bridge the gap
between growing demand and flagging domestic production. Natural
gas output has fallen 15 percent since 2004.
Fernandez's left-leaning administration blamed the country's
rising fuel bills on underinvestment by YPF when it was
controlled by Spain's Repsol, prompting the
controversial takeover of the company.
Gazprom operates the Sakhalin-2 LNG plant, the only such
enterprise in Russia, with annual production of 10 million
tonnes. It plans to double LNG capacity by building another
plant in the Pacific port of Vladivostok.
But the production of LNG is facing challenges from
increased shale gas production in the United States, as well as
sagging demand for the fuel in Europe.