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Petrobras Gets Permission To Halt Production At 16 Oil Platforms

The Brazilian government gave permission to Petrobras to suspend production at sixteen oil platforms as the troubled state-owned firm attempts to reduce costs.

As reported in The Rio Times on Friday, federal regulators at the National Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuel Agency (ANFP) approved the twelve-months halt in oil production in the states of Ceara, Rio Grande do Norte, Sergipe, Bahia and Espirito Santo. The suspension will also hit another fourteen concessions for the firm that posted a US$340 million loss of the first quarter of 2016 and a total debt of US$126 billion.

Despite posting record oil and gas output in June, Petrobras has been battered by the low cost of oil, a domestic economy mired in recession, and involvement in a major bribery scandal that has rocked Brazil’s political establishment.

Petrobras CEO Pedro Parente on Thursday said the company would continue with a divestment plan originally announced last December on the heels of a US$9.7 billion net loss for 2015. The aim is to shrink costs by 25 percent or US$32 billion and total spending of US$98.4 billion by 2019.

“Our (divestment) goal of US$15 billion for the two years, 2015 and 2016, is maintained. Little was accomplished so far, but we are working hard (for it),” said Parente.

Related: Venezuela’s Oil Production Plunges To 13-Year Low

The Petrobras chief also confirmed the company was analyzing three proposals for the sale of its BR Distribuidora subsidiary and said that a new divestment scheme will be announced by the end of September.

Though Parente emphasized several cost-cutting measures, he admitted Petrobras could participate in auctions for the exploration of pre- and post-salt sites if “we find it worthwhile.” In addition, Parente made his remarks during a ceremony to promote Petrobras-sponsored Brazilian athletes who will be competing at the upcoming Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

By Erwin Cifuentes for Oilprice.com

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