May 14, 2013 / 4:15 PM / 6 years ago

UPDATE 2-Brazil's Petrobras studying offer for Argentine unit

BRASILIA/BUENOS AIRES, May 14 (Reuters) - Argentine companies have made an offer to buy some of the assets that Brazil’s Petrobras SA has put up for sale in Argentina as part of its divestment strategy abroad, the oil company’s president, Maria das Gracas Foster, said on Tuesday.

“We have a proposal on the table,” Foster told a Senate economic affairs hearing.

However, she said Petrobras has not made a decision and is in no hurry to decide.

Argentine media reported on Tuesday that Petrobras has agreed to sell 51 percent of the assets of subsidiary Petrobras Argentina SA to Argentina-based Oil Combustibles. La Nacion, Clarin and El Cronista newspapers cited unnamed sources.

But Foster said that while Petrobras was discussing an offer by several companies in Argentina, the state-run Brazilian oil company has made no commitment and has no deadline to decide.

“Petrobras Argentina is in our divestment portfolio. The Petrobras board of directors has not taken any position. We have no deadline and we are not in a hurry,” Foster told senators.

“There is no obligation between the parties ... either side can leave the table at any time.”

A spokesman for Oil Combustibles did not directly confirm or deny the news reports, saying simply: “The negotiations with Petrobras are very advanced.”

Oil Combustibles said it made an offer to buy some of Petrobras Argentina’s assets late last year.

No one at Petrobras Argentina was immediately available to comment.

Petrobras said in December it would cut costs by about $15.4 billion between 2013 and 2016 to stanch the impact of falling output and rising debt on its ambitious expansion plan.

To help finance the cost-cutting plan, Petrobras planned to sell an estimated $14.8 billion of non-Brazilian assets in the United States, Japan, Argentina and other countries.

Petrobras Argentina participates in dozens of oil production and exploration projects in Argentina. It also owns a refinery in southern Buenos Aires province with a capacity to process 30,000 barrels of oil per day.

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