Argentina Court Orders State Oil Company to Disclose

11 November 2015

The Argentine Supreme Court of Justice on Nov. 10 ordered disclosure of documents by a state-owned oil company notwithstanding arguments that the firm was excluded from Executive Decree 1172/03 that implements the right of access to public information.

The court said it has the authority to harmonize the interpretation of federal rulings such as the Executive Decree and the contrary national law (Article 15 of Law 26.741).

Oil Statel controls 51 percent of YPF (Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales). The court ordered YPF to release clauses from the agreement signed with Chevron for the oil exploitation of the “Vaca Muerta” oilfield.

Reacting strongly, Cabinet chief Anibal Fernandez told reporters Nov. 11, “What the court has said in this case is madness. What it does is it lays bare information from confidential agreements like those seen in any industrial situation in the world,” according to an article in Latino Fox News. The ruling undermines “legal certainty” in Argentina, Fernandez said, predicting that the country will be in a very difficult legal bind when “information is requested from companies that have signed confidentiality agreements and it has to be disclosed.”

Senator Sought Information

The plaintiff is a national senator, Rubén Héctor Giustiniani, who asked YPF for information about the clauses of the Project Investment Agreement signed with Chevron to exploit nonconventional oil resources in the “Lomas de la Lata Norte” and “Loma Campana” in the Province of Neuquen.

The fact that the National State owns the majority of the company´s stocks and that the Executive has the power to appoint its General Manager and other members of the Board of Directors (the Ministry of Economy was appointed by President Fernandez de Kirchner as member of the Board of Directors) shows the predominant role it has over the decision making policy in YPF, the court said.

Being under the National Executive´s control means it must comply with the right of access to information related to its activities, the court decided, also referring to international human rights treaties (recognized by the National Constitution as a part of it in Article 75).

Also, the court´s decision makes clear that YPF cannot use as a shelter of its duty to inform, those rules devoted to achieve economic efficiency and in this way escape to its obligation to guarantee and respect the right of access to information.

The court also stated that YPF did not prove any of the exceptions alleged in the case (industrial and scientific secrets). And that as Chevron has no obligation to provide public information, should not be cited as a part of the case.

Be Sociable, Share!

Filed under: What's New