December 6, 2019 / 5:59 PM / 3 months ago

Petrobras seeks swift sale of Braskem, smoother offshore auction process

LONDON (Reuters) - The chief executive of Brazilian state-run oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras) said on Friday he wants to sell the company’s stake in petrochemical company Braskem SA within a year.

FILE PHOTO: A logo of Brazil's state-run Petrobras oil company is seen at their headquarters in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil October 16, 2019. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes

At the London leg of an international investor roadshow, top Petrobras officials presented plans to sell tens of billions of dollars in assets to reduce a hefty debt load.

However, creditors of corruption-ensnared construction conglomerate Odebrecht SA, which also has a large stake in Braskem, are in advanced talks to delay the sale of the crown jewel asset for another two to three years, Reuters reported on Monday.

“It’s a very long period of time to sell a company,” Petrobas CEO Roberto Castello Branco said during the meeting with investors in London. “We understood this as a signal of someone who at the end of the day doesn’t want to sell anything.”

Branco also said that the process by which Brazil offers offshore oil blocks must be refined, with the current bidding system allowing Petrobas a privileged position.

Last month, no major global oil firms committed to participate in an auction for the blocks in a major blow to the South American exporter’s ambitions to develop the sector.

“It’s very important to have a significant change...toward the adoption of a more pro-market (regulatory) regime, eliminating all the complexities which at the end of the day reduce the attractiveness of Brazil,” Branco said.

Asked if the firm would make a pledge similar to that from Spain’s Repsol to slash net carbon emissions to zero by the middle of the century, Branco told reporters: “It’s too early ... each company has its own views”.

Petrobras’ refining and natural gas chief Anelise Lara said the company had completed a feasibility study with China’s CNPC over refining operations in Rio de Janeiro.

She added that Petrobras was also looking to reduce the amount of gas it imports via a Bolivia-Brazil pipeline from a contracted 30 million cubic meters per day to 15 million following discussions with Brazil’s anti-trust regulator.

Petrobras agreed a deal with the regulator earlier this year to foster competition in gas imports and encourage new participants in the market.

Reporting by Noah Browning, editing by Louise Heavens and Kirsten Donovan

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