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Petrobras May Pay First Dividend In 3 Years

Brazil’s state energy major Petrobras last distributed a dividend in April 2014. This year could mark the return of the payouts as the company eyes to end 2017 in the black. Chief executive Pedro Parente said, as quoted by Reuters, that “We really are keen to start paying dividends as fast as we can.”

Troubled Petrobras reported a net profit of US$1.417 billion for the first quarter of this year, up from a net loss of US$318 million for the year-earlier period. The company attributed the positive performance to 72-percent higher exports, at 782,000 bpd, at higher prices, as well as to lower oil and gas import costs. The latter were a result of higher production of oil and gas at home, which led to a 40-percent decline in imports.

Domestic oil production rose 10 percent on the year to 2.182 million bpd, and overall output went up 9 percent to 2.248 million bpd. Asset sales also contributed to the results but they also accounted for a reduction in income from international operations, notably the sale of Petrobras’ Argentine and Chilean operations.

A resuming of the dividend payout will go a long way towards instilling some semblance of confidence in Petrobras’ shareholders after two years of low oil prices, subsidies eating into the company’s revenues, and a graft investigation that toppled Brazil’s previous government.

Over that period, Petrobras’ debt swelled to around US$130 billion, becoming the largest in the global oil industry. Now, Parente’s top priority is to reduce this huge burden on the company and thanks to the positive Q1 performance, there is a chance that the company will be able to do it ahead of schedule, cutting its debt to EBITDA ration to 2.5x from 5.1x attend-2015. At the end of March 2017, debt was 3.24 times the company’s EBITDA.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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