Argentine court orders probe of presidential decree backing Chevron-YPF oil development deal

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – A federal appellate court in Argentina has ordered a criminal investigation into the approval of a billion-dollar deal with U.S.-based Chevron Corp. to produce oil and gas by hydraulic fracturing in the world’s third-largest shale deposit.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez is accused of abusing her power and harming the environment by issuing a decree last year that facilitated the deal.

Chevron announced its first substantial investment in Argentina’s Vaca Muerta shale deposit the day after Fernandez lowered currency and tax restrictions on investors that spend at least $1 billion in the oil sector.

Cabinet chief Jorge Capitanich said Wednesday that the Chevron deal with state oil company YPF was transparent and constitutional. He accuses environmentalists of wanting Argentina to return to a pre-industrial society without cars or planes.