Peru's finance minister says no plans to nationalize gas sector after all

LIMA, Oct 27 (Reuters) - Peru's finance minister said on Wednesday the country's leftist government has no plans to take over the natural gas industry, in an attempt to calm fears after President Pedro Castillo talked about nationalization earlier in the week.

"To nationalize the gas (sector) means to put it in the service of all Peruvians," Finance Minister Pedro Francke said in a tweet. "It does not in any way mean to nationalize private enterprise."

Castillo had urged Congress on Monday to draft a bill to nationalize the country's gas sector. Although the opposition-led legislature was unlikely to follow on the request, Castillo's remarks contradicted earlier statements that his administration would not seek to nationalize parts of the economy.

Peru, the world's No. 2 copper producer, has a major gas operation run by the Camisea consortium, led by Argentina's Pluspetrol, with smaller stakes held by South Korea's SK Group, Hunt Oil and Repsol SA.

Castillo, a member of a Marxist-Leninist party, has spooked markets and investors, leading Peru's sol currency to fall to record lows since he took power in July.

Earlier this month Castillo replaced his prime minister, who had also threatened the nationalization of the gas sector. Analysts have interpreted the move as a way to moderate the administration's economic stance.

Mirtha Vasquez, the new prime minister, has pledged to seek economic stability and is waiting for Congress to vote whether to confirm her and her Cabinet. The vote is set for next week (Reporting by Marco Aquino Editing by Paul Simao)

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