Petrobras approves sale of $2.1 billion in assets
BY JEFF FICK
RIO DE JANEIRO -- Petrobras, said that the its board had approved the sale of $2.1 billion of assets as it ramped up an ongoing divestment plan.
In the biggest of several deals, Petrobras said that it would sell the firm's 35% stake in the offshore Parque das Conchas oil field to Sinochem for $1.54 billion. The transaction continued the growing presence of Chinese oil companies in Brazil as the Asian nation seeks natural resources to feed its economy. Sinochem also paid $3.1 billion for a 40% stake in the Peregrino field operated by Statoil in 2012, as well as stakes in several other offshore blocks in a separate deal with Perenco.
The Parque das Conchas field is operated by Royal Dutch Shell, which holds a 50% stake in the field. ONGC holds the remaining 15%. Both firms have the right to pre-emt the deal and buy Petrobras's 35% stake within 30 days, Petrobras said.
Petrobras also said that it would sell its stake in petrochemicals firm Petroquimica Innova to Videolar for $372 million and the assumption of $9.6 million in debt. Earlier this week, Petrobras CFO Almir Barbassa said that the company planned to accelerate asset sales in the second half of 2013 as part of a $9.9 billion divestment plan announced earlier this year. Previously, the company sold half of its assets in Africa to investment bank BTG Pactual as part of a joint venture deal.
Petrobras also sold stakes in other oil fields the company owns abroad, including holdings in several Gulf of Mexico exploration blocks. Petrobras needs the cash to fund an ambitious $237 billion investment plan through 2017 that will develop massive offshore oil fields in Brazil. Petrobras discovered billions of barrels of crude oil trapped beneath a thick layer of salt off the country's Atlantic Ocean coast.
The undertaking, however, has stretched the company's finances. Petrobras's debt has risen dramatically in recent years to fund the world's largest corporate spending plan, while the company's bottom line has also been undercut by the government's reluctance to raise domestic fuel prices for fear of stoking inflation. Petrobras imports hefty amounts of gasoline and diesel to make up a refining shortfall and meet growing demand from Brazilian drivers, but it sells the two fuels at a discount to international benchmarks because of the pricing policy.
In smaller deals also announced, Petrobras said it would sell the company's holdings in three producing oil fields in the Gulf of Mexico for $185 million. The company will also unload a 20% stake in Companhia Energetica Potiguar, operator of two thermal power plants, to Global Participacoes em Energia for $16 million, Petrobras said.
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