Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner Monday presented Congress with a bill calling for the expropriation of the country's largest oil company, Spanish-run YPF.
Saying Argentina's oil industry was "of national interest," Kirchner presented the legislature with the bill titled "Hydrocarbon Sovereignty of Argentina."
YPF is currently under the control of Spain's Repsol oil company and Argentina's Eskenazi family, but if the bill becomes law, 51 percent of the shares would go to Argentina's government and the remaining 49 to the Federal Organization of Oil Producing States (OFHEPI), made up of Argentina's oil producing provinces.
According to Kirchner, the bill presented Monday will be voted on the next few weeks. It is expected to pass since the administration has a majority in both legislative chambers.
The bill, which was received by those present with applause and pro-Kirchner chants, followed four months of accusations by the Argentine government that YPF has let production fall by failing to invest, and a recent declaration by the Spanish government that it will defend Spanish companies as if they were property of the state.
"Where there is a Spanish company, there is the Spanish government, as if defending its own interests," Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy once said regarding the YPF dispute.
Kirchner has been calling on the nation's oil companies to increase output since oil imports almost doubled to more than $8 billion last year.
Shares of YPF dropped on news of the bill and in expectation of Spain's reaction.
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