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Reuters: UPDATE 1-Shell’s Argentine refinery to reopen Tuesday – govt

Tue Sep 11, 2007 1:47AM BST
BUENOS AIRES, Sept 10 (Reuters) – Argentina will let Royal Dutch Shell’s(RDSa.L: Quote, Profile, Research) sole refinery in Latin America reopen on Tuesday after the company presented a $60 million clean-up plan, a government spokesman said on Monday.

The Dock Sud refinery, which refines about 100,000 barrels of crude per day was closed by the government last week on the grounds that environmental officials had detected leaks and contamination in soil samples at the facility.

“(Shell) presented a plan for environmental improvements and the closure will be lifted tomorrow (Tuesday),” a spokesman at the Environment Secretariat told Reuters.

No one at Shell in Argentina could immediately be reached to comment about the government’s statement.

Following the refinery’s closure on Wednesday, Shell defended its environmental record and warned of possible domestic energy shortages in the South American country.

The issue has deepened a long-running dispute between Shell and the center-left government of President Nestor Kirchner, which has clashed with the oil major over energy prices and supplies.

In 2005, Kirchner exhorted Argentines to boycott Shell’s products after it raised prices.

Gasoline and diesel prices have been virtually frozen in Argentina for more than four years due to a tacit agreement between oil companies and the government reached during the nation’s 2001-2002 economic crisis.

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