Carlos Bulgheroni, one of Argentina’s most politically astute businessmen, who helped make his family-owned Bridas Corp. into a global operator in energy, has died after struggling to recover from surgery in the United States. He was 71.

Mr. Bulgheroni had been hospitalized after an operation in June, according to a statement from his companies, which didn’t give details on the timing, location and circumstances of his death.

Mr. Bulgheroni and his brother Alejandro took over Bridas, which was founded by their father in 1948 as a supplier to the national oil company YPF. They turned Bridas into an important oil producer in its own right, leading to a string of deals with partners.

Forbes estimates the Bulgheroni brothers’ combined net worth at $4.8 billion. Other companies in the family’s empire include Pan American Energy LLC and Axion Energy.

Mr. Bulgheroni was famous for cultivating positive and profitable relationships with Argentine administrations across the political spectrum since 1983, even at times when other business executives were abandoning the country. Meanwhile, the brothers developed opportunities in far-flung locations in Asia, even at one point negotiating with Taliban leaders in Afghanistan.

Bridas flew a Taliban delegation to Buenos Aires in 1997, shortly after the Islamist militant group had seized control of much of Afghanistan, according to the Buenos Aires newspaper Clarin. Mr. Bulgheroni led talks to build a 930-mile gas pipeline that was never built.

Major deals that Mr. Bulgheroni oversaw included the 1997 formation with Amoco of Pan American Energy, in which Bridas holds a 40 percent stake. The Bulgheronis then agreed to sell half of Bridas to the China National Offshore Oil Corp. and used the cash to buy ExxonMobil’s Argentina assets in 2011.

Carlos Alberto Bulgheroni was born in Rufino, Argentina, in 1945, according to an online biography from the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, where he was a trustee. He also maintained a home in Washington.

He was a law graduate of the University of Buenos Aires. He was active in international business and civic groups, according to his CSIS biography. His companies’ statement gave no details about survivors.

— Bloomberg News