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Petrobras Halts Sale Of Huge Oilfields After Oil Price Collapse

Amid the low oil prices, Brazil’s state-owned oil firm Petrobras has suspended preparations to sell a minority stake in a cluster of four offshore fields producing 230,000 bpd, Reuters reported on Thursday, quoting three sources familiar with the matter.  

Petrobras has been selling non-core assets and minority stakes in oilfields in Brazil and elsewhere, aiming to cut its massive debt. But the coronavirus pandemic and the oil price crash that followed have upended Petrobras’s plans to proceed with a sale of a minority stake in the Marlim cluster of four oilfields, according to Reuters sources.

“With oil at its current levels, it doesn’t make sense to discuss such an interesting asset,” one source with direct knowledge of the situation told Reuters. The idea of selling a stake in the Marlim fields is not dead, it’s just uncertain when it will be revived, the source said, adding that it would depend on when oil prices move substantially higher.

Last summer, Petrobras launched the binding phase of the sale of offshore upstream oil and gas assets in the Espírito Santo Basin. Before that, in April 2019, Petrobras had approved the sale of several refineries as part of its divestment plan. In July, it struck a deal with the Brazilian antitrust regulator that will allow it to sell those downstream assets in a bid, the company said, to encourage greater competition in the industry. 

In early July, Petrobras announced the start of the non-binding phase for the sale of its total equity interest in 14 onshore exploration and production concessions in Bahia state, jointly designated as the Recôncavo Cluster.

In a presentation in December 2019, Petrobras said it would look to sell additional oil assets, including stakes in Marlim, parts of the Papa-Terra field, its Bolivian assets, petrochem firm Braskem SA, and its remaining stake in BR Distribuidora. 

The parts of the Marlim field could fetch as much as $4 billion, while Braskem SA could net as much as $3 billion, Petrobras executives said at the end of last year.  

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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