Argentina: Slippery Oil

The thought of oil usually conjures up visions of Texas spindletops and the sands of remote sheikdoms of Arabia. But nowhere is there more drilling than in Argentina, where half the land has oil potential and almost 1,800 wells have been sunk in the past five years.

All Argentines talk heatedly about oil. At one time, in a burst of nationalist fervor, foreign firms were forbidden from prospecting—only to have the government monopoly (Y.P.F.) do so poorly that most of Argentina's unfavorable trade balance came from importing oil. President Arturo Frondizi allowed foreign oilmen back in 1958. They have saved...

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