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Brazil’s Petrobras Reassesses Oil Refinery Deal With China’s CNPC

Brazilian state-held oil firm Petrobras is re-evaluating a preliminary deal with China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) to build an oil refinery in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazilian economic newspaper Valor Economico reported on Thursday, citing a source from Petrobras’ management.

Petrobras signed in October an agreement with CNPC’s subsidiary China National Oil and Gas Exploration and Development Company (CNODC) to carry out a feasibility study to assess the investment case for the COMPERJ refinery in Brazil. Once the study is completed, the companies plan to create a joint venture to complete the construction and operate the refinery. Petrobras will have an 80 percent stake in the joint venture, and CNPC will own the remaining 20 percent.

However, according to Valor Economico’s source, the oil refinery partnership—which was struck during the previous top management of Petrobras—clashes with the ideas of new chief executive Roberto Castello Branco, who is pushing for divestments at Petrobras, including in the oil refinery business.

China, via CNPC and its various subsidiaries, has been forming partnerships around the world lately and has been investing in the oil industries of countries like Venezuela and South Sudan. China has also extended loans to Venezuela and South Sudan, in exchange for future repayment in crude oil.

Meanwhile, CNPC’s listed arm PetroChina said on Thursday that it would be pursuing deeper cooperation with the U.S. energy sector, hoping that it could help the world’s two biggest economies to resolve their trade dispute.

“Through this cooperation we can improve [the countries’] trade structure, which is conducive for the diversification of our energy import sources,” PetroChina’s president Hou Qijun said at the firm’s 2018 results release, as carried by South China Morning Post.  

The progress in the U.S.-China trade talks has made PetroChina more confident in seeking to expand its energy cooperation with the United States, which has the capability to become a top natural gas exporter at a time when China’s natural gas needs and imports are growing fast, according to PetroChina’s president.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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