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Petrobras Picks Engie For Gas Pipeline Network

Brazil’s state energy major Petrobras has selected French utility Engie as the preferred bidder for its natural gas pipeline network, unnamed sources said, as quoted by Reuters. The talks between the two companies are private at this point. The exclusivity period for the negotiations ends at the end of this month.

Petrobras put Transportadora Associada de Gas up for sale as part of a divestment plan aimed at shrinking its considerable debt pile. Last month, media reported that the UAE’s sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Development was among the bidders as well as EIG Global Energy Partners, and Australian Macquarie Group Ltd.

Mubadala and EIG led one consortium of bidders for the 2,800-mile network, which also includes Chinese Silk Road Fund Co. and Italian Snam. Macquarie led the other consortium, which also involves Brazilian Ithausa – Investimentos Itau, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, and Singapore GIC Private Ltd. Engie is part of the third bid for TAG, but its partners have not been divulged.

The size of the bids has not been disclosed, but sources close to the developments told Bloomberg in April they could reach as high as US$8 billion. This will constitute a major portion of the US$21-billion divestment plan of the Brazilian company and will bring it much closer to reaching its divestment target.

Related: Will Higher Oil Prices Destroy Demand?

Besides the gas network, which spans ten Brazilian states, Petrobras is also divesting its 60-percent stakes in four local refineries, keeping minority interests in them. Last month, the company finalized the sale of its stakes in two petrochemical units for US$435 million to Mexican Alpek, and earlier this week, it sold its interest in the Azolao field in the state of Amazonas to local Parnaiba Gas Natural for US$56.5 million.

The divestment program also includes some 100 offshore fields in Brazil, two fields in Nigeria, and retail operations in Paraguay. Petrobras has set a target of cutting its debt from over US$100 billion three years ago to US$77 billion by the end of this year.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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