Brazil’s Petrobras Invests US$ 16 Bi Seeking Self-Sufficiency in Gas

    Brazilian oil giant Petrobras intends to invest US$ 16 billion in the gas sector up to 2010. The measure should reduce the Brazilian dependence on Bolivian gas.

    The neighboring country, which is the main supplier of the product to Brazil, has decided to nationalize its natural gas production and is negotiating new prices for the supply of the commodity on the Brazilian market.

    Petrobras explores gas in Bolivia and should have losses with the measure. Half of the natural gas consumed in Brazil, 200,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day, comes from Bolivia.

    This information was disclosed Monday, May 15, by the financial director at Petrobras, Almir Barbassa, in a press conference in Rio de Janeiro, southeastern Brazil.

    Brazilian investment in the gas sector should take some years to bring results. The development of a gas field takes between two and three years, according to Barbassa. Petrobras already produces gas, but not at sufficient volumes to supply the domestic market.

    Another alternative studied by Petrobras is the replacement of natural gas for fuel oil, according to information published in the newspaper O Globo. Each year, Petrobras exports 250,000 barrels of oil equivalent of fuel oil.

    If Brazil stops importing the 100,000 barrels of oil equivalent of natural gas from Bolivia, the country will still have 150,000 barrels to export, according to figures supplied by Barbassa.

    The new forecasts for the gas sector were made two days after Petrobras announced its results for the first quarter. The company ended the first three months of the year with net profit of R$ 6.7 billion (US$ 3.1 billion), a result 33% greater than that for the same period last year, and the greatest ever obtained in the company history in the first three months of any year.

    According to Barbassa, the significant increase in profit was the consequence of greater production of oil, approximately 208,000 barrels of oil per day, lower operating cost as well as price increases.

    "The result occurred mainly due to strong operational advances made by the company in areas of exploration, production and refining; to high prices on the foreign market; to appreciation of the Brazilian real against the United States dollar and to the stability of operating expenses. This was an excellent result," stated Barbassa.

    Figures supplied by Petrobras also show that the daily production of oil and natural gas grew 14%, resulting in positive trade balance figures, exports minus imports, for the company – 58,000 barrels of oil and derivatives per day.

    Self-Sufficiency

    Petrobras announced, in April, when one of its platforms – P-50 – went into operation in Campos Basin, in the state of Rio de Janeiro, southeastern Brazil, that the company had reached self-sufficiency in oil.

    That is, Brazil started producing the same volume of oil that the country consumes. This means that the country produces 1.9 million barrels of oil a day for a consumption of 1.8 million barrels. P-50 has a capacity for production of 180,000 barrels of oil a day.

    Other platforms to begin producing this year are the P-34, with 60,000 barrels a day, in the southeastern state of Espí­rito Santo, SSP-300, with daily production of 20,000 barrels, in Sergipe, northeastern Brazil, and FPSO Capixaba, with daily production of 100,000 barrels.

    However, Brazil has not stopped importing oil, as the commodity produced in the country is different from that purchased from other countries. That is, Petrobras imports but also exports oil.

    Anba

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