Shell accuses Argentina of discrimination in fuel battle

BUENOS AIRES, Aug 24, 2007 (AFP) – Anglo-Dutch oil company Royal Dutch/Shell, whose top executives are under threat of arrest, accused the Argentine government of “discrimination” in a page-wide advert published Friday in leading newspapers. “The discrimination Shell is being subjected to is inadmissible,” said company president Juan Aranguren in the statement, adding that the firm was unfairly blamed and fined for a diesel fuel shortage in the country.

The government of President Nestor Kirchner on July 2 announced a series of fines against Shell for violations of the rarely invoked 1974 Law of Supply that targets fuel hoarding and price-fixing.

In addition to fines, the law — revoked in 1991 and reinstated in 1999 — also calls for up to four years prison for law breakers.

Internal Commerce Secretary Guillermo Moreno recently took Shell to court over its alleged violations and requested that Aranguren and other top company executives be placed under arrest.

Moreno is to appear at a hearing before a judge next week to formalize the charges and name the people he wants to have arrested.

Shell, in its advert, doubted the Law of Supply’s validity and complained that the government was singling them out.

“During