BUENOS AIRES – Argentina’s Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that state-controlled oil company YPF must disclose the terms of its 2013 deal with U.S.-based supermajor Chevron to develop the giant Vaca Muerta shale formation.
“The imprecise and generic affirmations formulated by YPF SA were not sufficient to hold as proven that the release of the content of the accord might compromise industrial, technical and scientific secrets,” the court concluded in a 3-1 decision.
The ruling came in response to a motion filed by opposition Sen. Hector Ruben Giustiniani after YPF refused to answer his questions about the contract with Chevron, particularly in regard to the potential environmental impact of the project.
Freedom of information is “a fundamental human right” that implies the protection of “access to information under the control of the state,” the judges said.
As President Cristina Fernandez’s administration controls YPF, “it must allow anyone access to information related to its activities,” the court said.
The Argentine government effectively controls YPF through its 51-percent stake, but the firm’s shares are publicly traded, and attorneys for the company argued that it was not subject to the same transparency requirements as a government agency.
YPF said Tuesday that it would comply with the Supreme Court ruling.
YPF announced in 2011 the discovery of non-conventional oil and natural gas reserves in Vaca Muerta, located in the southwestern province of Neuquen.
The agreement between YPF and Chevron calls for $1.24 billion in investment in the first phase and $1.6 billion in the second phase of the development of the Loma Campana section of Vaca Muerta.
Phase 2 got under way in April 2014.
Plans call for spending a total $16 billion to develop 3 percent of the production area in Vaca Muerta. Once fully operational, the Loma Campana wells are expected to produce around 50,000 barrels per day of crude oil and 3 million cubic meters of associated natural gas.