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Energy

Petrobras' Albacora seen drawing at least three buyers - sources

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Petrobras’ Albacora oilfields in Brazil are likely to attract at least three buyers despite a roughly one-month delay to let interested parties finalize their bids, four sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

FILE PHOTO: People walk in front of the Brazil's state-run Petrobras oil company headquarters in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, October 16, 2019. Picture taken October 16, 2019. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes/File Photo

Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as Petrobras is formally known, has been selling off dozens of assets ranging from refineries to pipelines in a bid to cut its hefty debt load and sharpen its focus on ultra-deep-water oil production.

The Albacora and Albacora Leste fields, which are being sold together, are among the most highly coveted assets that Petrobras has put on the block. Together, they will likely be the company’s largest divestment since 2017, when the state-run oil producer agreed to sell a stake in its Roncador field to Norway’s Equinor ASA for $2.9 billion.

There are at least three parties likely to submit a binding offer for the oilfields, the sources said.

One consortium is composed of Houston-based Talos Energy Inc, private equity firm EIG Global Energy Partners, Enauta Participacoes SA and 3R Petroleum Oleo e Gas SA, the sources said.

Another consortium is composed of Rio de Janeiro-based PetroRio SA and Cobra, a unit of France’s Vinci SA.

Australia’s Karoon Energy Ltd submitted a non-binding offer earlier in the year, a pre-condition for submitting a binding bid, the sources said. The company has been searching for a financial partner for the final phase of the sale process, they added.

The Albacora fields produce roughly 77,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, according to bidding documents released by Petrobras. While the exact values of the upcoming bids are unclear, the assets are likely to fetch in the billions of dollars, the sources said.

Reuters had previously reported on the interest of the Talos consortium. Local media outlets subsequently reported on the interest of the competing consortia. The delay has not been previously reported.

Petrobras, EIG, Enauta and 3R declined to comment. PetroRio, Talos and Cobra did not respond to comment requests.

In an interview with Reuters last week, Karoon Chief Executive Julian Fowles confirmed the company had been looking at Albacora and Albacora Leste, but said it would need to bid with a partner given the asset’s size. He declined to elaborate further, citing the confidentiality of the sale process.

Binding offers had originally been due on Monday, but the deadline has been pushed out to Aug. 9, as potential buyers asked for additional time to examine the assets and structure their offers, said the sources, who requested anonymity to discuss confidential matters.

Such delays are fairly routine for Petrobras divestments, due to the legally and technically complex nature of the company’s sale processes.

Reporting by Marta Nogueira and Gram Slattery; editing by Richard Pullin

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