MOSCOW – Russia and Argentina signed several cooperation documents in the energy sector on Thursday, underlining Moscow’s drive to deepen ties with countries in South America since coming under Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis.
At a ceremony in the Kremlin, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Argentine President Cristina Fernandez hailed the agreements, which pave the way for closer cooperation on natural gas and nuclear energy in Argentina.
Russian state-owned gas producer Gazprom signed a memorandum on cooperation with state oil company YPF, while Russia’s Rosatom signed a similar deal for construction of a nuclear power plant in Argentina.
“Russia and Argentina are developing their cooperation in the energy sphere,” Putin told row upon row of government officials.
“Our countries share long-standing relations of friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation, which have reached the level of a comprehensive and strategic partnership.”
Putin said Gazprom was considering the possibility of jointly developing hydrocarbon deposits in Argentina and that heavy machinery producer Uralmash planned to form a joint venture with Argentine partners to produce oil equipment in Argentina.
Both countries are keen on fostering closer ties.
Russia has shifted policy towards Asia, Africa and countries in South America since the European Union and the United States imposed economic sanctions over Russian policy on Ukraine and has sought out new business deals.
Argentina is also keen to reverse a costly energy deficit that will take as much as $200 billion investment to erase, YPF has said. Key to the effort will be the development of the barely-tapped Vaca Muerta shale oil and gas field in Patagonia.
The two leaders said they would consider using their national currencies rather than U.S. dollars in bilateral trade.
(Reporting by Denis Pinchuk and Vladimir Soldatkin; Writing by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Timothy Heritage)
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