Petrobras considers that the worst is “over” and expects an increase in demand

Sao Paulo, Jul 31 (EFECOM) .- The state oil company Petrobras, the largest company in Brazil, considered this Friday that the “worst” of the crisis caused by COVID-19 “is over” and anticipates an increase in internal demand for fuels and derivatives in the second half of the year.

“The recovery in the demand for derivatives in the domestic market has been constant” and “we believe that the worst phase is over, so we must continue with a demand from stable to increasing” in the coming months, he said at a press conference the company’s director of refining and natural gas, Anelise Lara, in which she commented on the semi-annual results released the day before.

That increase, said the executive, will occur especially in diesel and gasoline, since the search for aviation kerosene is still “small” due to the “significant” flight restriction that is in force in most countries.

Despite the fact that its directors consider that the oil sector faces its greatest crisis in the last hundred years, Petrobras maintained in the second quarter its goal of concluding 2020 with an average production of 2.7 million barrels per day of oil and natural gas.

In the first half alone, the company produced 2.85 million barrels of oil and gas equivalents, 10.4% more than that registered in the same period of 2019, while in the second quarter, the increase was 6, 4% in the year-on-year comparison.

The production was mainly bid by the Buzios plant, considered the “pre-salt giant”, a huge reserve from which it extracts crude oil at very low prices in deep Atlantic waters, and the “highest value asset for Petrobras”, according to expressed the director of Exploitation and Production, Carlos Alberto Pereira.

“We had a fairly solid operational performance despite the pandemic that affected our activities,” said Pereira, adding that the Buzios plant reached a daily production record on July 13, with 844,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, and also It will close July with “a record monthly production”.

To cope with falling demand and global excess supply, which caused the price of crude oil to plummet, Petrobras suspended its operations on 62 offshore offshore platforms.

However, despite the stoppage of activities on these platforms, the state oil company experienced an “expressive increase” in exports, which have “offset” the drop in demand in the semester.

In April, the export of crude oil exceeded the mark of one million barrels per day leaving the Brazilian coast, which is a new record and “confirms the growth trend” in shipments abroad.

The company also noted that China remained the main destination, with 87% of the total volume exported between April and June.

NO CHANGE IN THE DESTINATION PLAN

Petrobras also left unchanged the ambitious divestment plan that it launched four years ago to sell non-strategic assets and improve its financial health, although it acknowledged that there were some “delays” in completing some businesses.

The goal, as explained by the state’s president, Roberto Castello Branco, is to reduce the company’s gross debt to $ 60 billion, which is currently at $ 91 billion, as well as expenses.

“We have to be prepared to be a company resistant to the volatility of oil prices and the fluctuations of the global economy,” said Castello Branco.

“We cannot depend on external factors to generate value, we have to generate it with our own means, by reducing expenses and being more efficient,” he added.

In this sense, the president also announced that Petrobras must conclude the sale of the Landulpho Alves (RLAM) refinery, in the state of Bahia (northeast), “in one or two months”, since he is discussing the details of the business with the Mubadala fund, the company that presented the best offer.

“We are in a normal phase of negotiations, of successes for signing the contract,” which “should take place shortly, within a month or two,” stressed Castello Branco.

Petrobras, controlled by the State but with shares traded on the Sao Paulo, New York and Madrid stock exchanges, registered losses of 51,236 million reais (8,347 million euros) in the first half of 2020, in contrast to gains of 22,897 million of reais (about 3,730 million euros at the current exchange rate) from the same period last year. EFECOM

(c) EFE Agency