LIMA Brazil's Petrobras plans to leave Peru, six high-level sources inside and outside of the company said, as the overextended state-run firm sheds assets abroad to focus on its domestic market.
The sources did not say how much the Peruvian assets - which basically consists of two natural gas blocks - could be worth. Globally, the company reportedly expects to generate about $9 billion from an asset sale program being carried out to help fund the development of enormous offshore reserves in Brazil.
Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PETR4.SA), as Petrobras is known, has already shopped some of its Peruvian assets to potential buyers, according to three of the sources.
A final decision to pull out of Peru has not yet been made and could take some months, according to two other sources - one from the company's Peruvian unit and another from the local oil industry.
A sixth source, from Peru's government, said any departure would be unrelated to the country's regulatory landscape and instead be driven by financial stresses specific to Petrobras.
The company declined to comment on its Peru business.
"Petrobras does not discuss specific asset sale plans and in the case of a sale would only make the sale public when its complete," a company official in Brazil said.
Two of the sources, both executives in Peru's oil industry, said it would be a total withdrawal.
"Petrobras is leaving the country entirely," one of the sources said.
Another source said Petrobras was selling its valuable assets next to the Camisea natural gas fields.
"Petrobras is selling its 46-percent stake in lot 57 that it shares with Repsol and its lot 58," the source said. "But things for lot 58 are delayed because it first needs to finish drilling to find more proven reserves, which would bring in more value."
Each gas lot in Peru has proven reserves of 2 trillion cubic feet for a combined 4 tcf.
But last year, Pedro Grijalba, who at the time was the head of Petrobras Peru, said the company thought lots 57 and 58 could hold 8-10 tcf.
The company's other main asset in Peru, an oil exploration block, was relatively tiny and would not generate much cash, the sources said.
DEPARTURES MAY HOBBLE HUMALA
If it left Peru, Petrobras would become the third foreign oil company to leave the Andean country over the last year.
ConocoPhillips (COP.N) walked away from two exploration blocks in Peru in October of last year as part of the U.S. oil company's strategic plan to reduce non-core overseas assets.
A month before that, Canada's Talisman Energy Inc TLM.TO gave up on its eight-year-long effort to produce oil in Peru, as it shed assets in a bid to boost its share price.
A withdrawal by Petrobras could hobble efforts by President Ollanta Humala to make Peru self-sufficient in energy.
But some companies have snapped up Peruvian assets. Royal Dutch/Shell (RDSa.L) in February bought a bundle of liquefied natural gas assets from Spain's Repsol (REP.MC) for $6.7 billion. The deal included operations in Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Bay of Biscay.
According to previous reporting by Reuters, Petrobras is trying to sell oil fields, exploration rights, refineries and other assets in Argentina, Africa, Japan and the United States in an effort to raise cash to help finance a $237 billion, five-year investment plan - the world's largest corporate spending program.
The plan aims to boost Petrobras' output to more than 5 million barrels a day by 2020, making it one of the world's largest producers.
(Additional reporting by Jeb Blount in Rio de Janeiro; Editing by Marguerita Choy)