* New offshore fields to boost Brazil output
* Petrobras is currently importer and exporter of oil
RIO DE JANEIRO, Nov 17 (Reuters) - Brazilian state oil company Petrobras expects crude oil exports to rise to 800,000 barrels per day by 2020 as new oil production from vast offshore fields comes online, a company director said on Wednesday.
Petrobras (PETR4.SA) is currently both an importer and exporter of crude oil, but imports are slated to halt by 2014 as oil output from the offshore region known as the subsalt displaces light crude purchases from Iraq and Saudi Arabia, Petrobras Supply Director Paulo Roberto Costa said.
“By 2020 we should have refining capacity of 3.2 (million bpd) and production of around 4 (million bpd), so we would have exports of 800,000 barrels per day,” Costa said during a news conference.
He said that figure referred only to the company’s own production and did not take into account volumes produced by partners in the subsalt region, which include Britain’s BG BG.L and Portugal’s GALP (GALP.LS).
Between January and September of this year, Petrobras imported an average of 331,000 bpd, while exporting 516,000 bpd, according to its most recent earnings reports, for net exports of 185,000 bpd.
The company has to import light oil for lubricants production and for mixing with heavier blends to create refinery feedstock, which it cannot do with its existing production of mostly heavy oil. The subsalt region’s reserves hold considerably lighter oil.
Critics say the company’s planned output increase is overly ambitious and point out that Petrobras has consistently missed its own production targets. (Reporting by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Walter Bagley)