EFE News Briefs for Friday, Sept. 14

Published September 14, 2012

| EFE

Chevron, Argentina's YPF sign shale exploration deal

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Argentine state-run oil firm YPF and U.S. supermajor Chevron Corp. signed a memorandum of understanding to "explore non-conventional hydrocarbon development opportunities" in the massive Vaca Muerta shale formation, YPF said in a statement Friday.

The MOU calls for exploring opportunities to develop shale oil and gas reserves in Vaca Muerta, located in the western Argentine province of Neuquen, and studying the potential for applying improved recovery techniques, YPF added.

The Argentine government expropriated a controlling stake in originally state-owned YPF earlier this year from Spain's Repsol, which maintains a 12 percent interest.

Repsol Chairman and CEO Antonio Brufau, for his part, said in the wake of the expropriation that the recent discovery of Vaca Muerta was undoubtedly behind the move.

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Peru president vows probe of child's death in army operation

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The death of an 8-year-old girl during a military operation against guerrillas in southern Peru "has to be investigated," President Ollanta Humala said, denying that his administration tried to cover up the incident.

The girl died Sunday after being shot in the back during a clash between security forces and remnants of the Shining Path guerrilla group that operate in the Valley of the Apurimac and Ene rivers, or VRAE, area.

Authorities in Lima initially said the operation resulted in the rescue of three children being held by the insurgents and in the arrest of two women. The original report made no mention of the dead child.

The central government later acknowledged that one of the women taken into custody was the mother of the three "rescued" kids and the girl who died, while local officials said all four children were inside their family's home when the violence erupted.

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3 Bids submitted to develop Chilean lithium

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Chile's government said three companies have submitted bids to develop lithium reserves in the country's northern region.

One of the bidders was Posco Consortium, made up of South Korean firms Posco and Daewoo International Corporation, Japan's Mitsui and Santiago-based Li3 Energy.

The other two were the Chilean firms Sociedad Legal Minera NX UNO de Peine, controlled by Grupo Errazuriz; and Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile. SQM is the world's leading lithium producer and one of only two companies - along with Rockwood Holdings - that mine lithium in the Andean nation, the world's largest producer of the metal.

The winner of the bid process will sign a 20-year Special Lithium Operation Contract with the government covering exploration and production of the mineral in Chile's Atacama Desert.

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9 Bodies found hanging from bridge in northeastern Mexico

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The bodies of nine men were found hanging from a bridge in Nuevo Laredo, a border city in the northeastern Mexican state of Tamaulipas, officials said.

"The individuals were hung from a bridge at the intersection of Colosio Blvd. and the highway leading to Monterrey," capital of the neighboring state of Nuevo Leon, a security spokesman in Nuevo Laredo said.

The bodies bore signs of torture and the suspected perpetrators of the crime left a message whose content was not disclosed.

Prior to the discovery of the bodies, an armed commando had dragged several people from a bar and later set the establishment on fire. Investigators are trying to determine if those victims were the same people hung from the bridge.

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Guatemala volcanic eruption forces mass evacuation

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The Fuego volcano, one of Guatemala's most active, spewed columns of ash high above its crater and lava down its flanks, prompting authorities to evacuate more than 10,000 nearby inhabitants.

The Conred emergency management agency decreed a red alert for communities near the erupting volcano, located 50 kilometers (31 miles) southwest of Guatemala City, and at least 10,600 people began to be relocated Thursday to shelters in the town of Santa Lucia Cotzumalguapa, some 100 kilometers south of the capital.

Fuego began erupting for the sixth time this year at around 4:00 a.m. Thursday, with powerful explosions sending columns of ash more than 3,000 meters (9,830 feet) above its crater.

Civil aviation officials ordered a halt to air traffic in southern and southwestern Guatemala, grounding flights between Guatemala City and the Mexican state of Chiapas.

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Spain takes 2-0 lead in Davis Cup; Argentina tied with Czech Rep.

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Nicolas Almagro scored a narrow 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 victory here over big-serving John Isner to give Spain a commanding 2-0 lead over the United States in the Davis Cup semifinals, while Argentina and the Czech Republic are all even after their first two singles matches.

Almagro capped off a perfect day for Spain, whose No. 1 singles player, David Ferrer, shook off a rocky start to roll to a 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 win over Sam Querrey on the slow clay of the Parque Hermanos Castro arena in this northwestern city.

The United States, which holds the record for most Davis Cup titles with 32, has only come back from a 2-0 deficit on one occasion - 78 years ago against Australia - but captain Jim Courier said anything is possible.

EFE

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