Two opinion polls published over the weekend show widespread support for Argentine President Cristina Kirchner's plan to nationalize the country's largest oil and gas company, YPF SA (YPF, YPFD.BA).
The surveys, conducted by respected pollsters with a track record of accurately measuring electoral patterns, indicate a majority of Argentines approve of Kirchner's decision.
A poll carried out by Poliarquia Consultores and published in newspaper La Nacion, shows that 62% of Argentines "agree with the announced plans," while 31% disagree with them.
The other survey, conducted by Management & Fit and published in the weekly magazine Noticias, puts support for YPF's nationalization at 50.2% and its rejection at 34.6%.
Both polls indicate that a plurality of respondents blame the government instead of YPF for Argentina's energy problems.
In the Poliarquia's survey, around 44% of those polled said the government is responsible for declining oil production, while 36% said YPF is the culprit.
In Management & Fit's poll, about 39% blamed the government for "YPF's crisis," while 18.3% blamed the company's majority shareholder, Spain's Repsol YPF SA (REP.MC, REPYY), for YPF's troubles. The poll said 11.6% of those interviewed blame the Spanish government for YPF's predicament.
Last week, President Kirchner asked Congress to nationalize YPF by expropriating 51% of the company's shares from Repsol YPF. She said Repsol YPF and YPF had failed Argentina by not investing enough in oil and gas production.
The lack of investment has led to falling oil and gas output, which forced Argentina to become a net energy importer for the first time in 17 years, according to Kirchner.
Both YPF and Repsol have denied Kirchner's allegations and said noted that YPF invested far more than any other company in Argentina. In 2011, YPF invested $3 billion in Argentina, mostly on exploration and production.
-By Taos Turner, Dow Jones Newswires; 5411-4103-6728; [email protected]