December 19, 2019 / 10:44 AM / a month ago

British firms among potential bidders for Petrobras offshore oilfields: sources

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Anglo-French firm Perenco, UK-based Trident Energy and Premier Oil Plc are among the companies examining the purchase of a cluster of Petrobras oilfields in Brazil known as Polo Garoupa, seven told sources told Reuters in recent weeks.

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/File Photo

The deliberations are preliminary, and it is possible none of the firms will purchase the mature fields in Brazil’s offshore Campos Basin, at least under the terms Petrobras is offering, added the sources, who requested anonymity to discuss confidential matters.

Brazil’s Petro Rio SA has also examined Garoupa, in keeping with the company’s strategy of looking at all mature oilfields being sold by Petrobras, the sources said.

Perenco declined to comment while the other firms did not respond to requests for comment.

Unlike previous oilfield divestments by Petrobras, the Garoupa sale has no non-binding phase. Potential bidders have signed confidentiality agreements and are discussing the asset internally and with Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as the state-run firm is formally known. They have also discussed the potential formation of consortia, sources said. The next formal step will be the submission of binding offers.

Slightly larger mature assets in the Campos Basin have generally fetched several hundred million dollars.

But the sources said Garoupa is unusually complex and the potential price range is not yet clear. While binding offers were originally due in December, they have been postponed to March, they added.

Polo Garoupa produced 19,600 barrels of oil equivalent per day in the 12 months through August, according to Petrobras, making it the largest production asset currently in the firm’s divestment portfolio.

Petrobras is planning to divest at least $20 billion to $30 billion of assets over the next five years in a bid to reduce debt.

It has already sold a number of legacy oilfields, and executives have said they are considering putting major production assets on the block in 2020.

Yet Petrobras’ oilfield divestments have at times hit snags and bidders have occasionally criticized the pace of the process.

Garoupa is considered more complex than recent assets of similar size that Petrobras has sold, the sources said.

Decommissioning liabilities come to well over $2 billion, while some of the infrastructure at Garoupa, which has been producing since the 1970s, is considered dated. The cluster is also a transshipment point for natural gas being sent from larger fields further offshore, which could complicate operations and subject purchasers to penalties in the case of stoppages.

Reporting by Gram Slattery; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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