A Brazilian court has suspended the $2.5-billion sale of Petrobras’ stake in the giant Carcara field to Norwegian Statoil after the National Federation of Oil Workers filed a lawsuit arguing that Petrobras should have held an open tender for the interest.
The Brazilian state giant agreed with Statoil to sell it its 66 percent in the Carcara field last summer. Half of the deal’s price tag was paid at the closing of the acquisition, which took place in November, and the other half is subject to the reaching of certain milestones. Petrobras said it has already used up the $1.25 billion paid on completion to repay debts.
The plaintiffs insist that Petrobras, being a state-owned company, should have invited more bids for Carcara, although it remains unclear why they did not act before the deal was finalized.
Petrobras, according to Reuters, will now take the necessary legal steps to protect its interests, after it reported in a regulatory filing yesterday that the Carcara deal had been greenlit by regulatory authorities.
The acquisition was the first major deal in Brazil’s presalt layer—the most promising part of its continental shelf that has attracted a lot of attention. This attention has been welcomed by the troubled state giant, suffering under the burden of the biggest debt pile in the oil industry—still above $100 billion—and the fallout from the major corruption scandal that shook Brazil’s political class and eventually led to the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff and a government change.
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The new government prioritized fresh foreign investment in the country’s oil industry, and as part of efforts to attract investors, it relieved Petrobras of its obligation to take up a 30-percent interest in all new projects and become their operator.
The Carcara deal was the first big one in the presalt layer. The deposit is estimated to hold as much as 700 million to 1.3 billion barrels of crude.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.