RIO DE JANEIRO – State-controlled oil giant Petrobras said on Monday that it planned to sell its stakes in two production areas that hold 22 onshore oil fields in Brazil as part of an ongoing asset divestiture program.
Petrobras, Brazil’s largest corporation, said in a statement that it was selling the Reconcavo production area, which has 14 onshore oil fields, and the Rio Ventura production area, which has eight fields.
Both production areas are in the northeastern state of Bahia, Petrobras said.
Reconcavo produced an average of 2,800 barrels per day (bpd) of petroleum and 588,000 cubic meters of natural gas per day in 2018.
Rio Ventura had production of 1,500 bpd of crude oil and 43,000 cubic meters of natural gas per day last year.
In addition to selling 100 percent of its stakes in the two production areas, Petrobras said it would include shared transportation and processing facilities in Bahia.
Petrobras has a 100 percent operating interest in the onshore areas, with the exception of Reconcavo’s Cambacica and Guanambi fields, in which it holds majority stakes of 75 percent and 80 percent, respectively.
The oil giant launched an ambitious asset divestiture program several years ago in an effort to deal with the financial crisis caused by a huge corruption scandal and plunging oil prices.
Petrobras expects to sell assets worth between $30 billion and $40 billion this year, or about twice the target set in the current divestiture plan, CEO Roberto Castello Branco said.
On May 27, Petrobras said it planned to sell its stakes in 27 mature onshore oil fields in the southeastern state of Espiritu Santo.
The fields, known as the Polo Cricare, are in the cities of Sao Mateus, Jaguare, Linhares and Conceição da Barra.
Petrobras’s production has dropped as it has shed assets, falling about 5 percent in the first quarter of 2019, compared to the same period last year.
The company, however, is betting that the proceeds from the asset sales will allow it to boost investment in core assets.
“The divestitures generate resources for investment in assets that yield more production, like the pre-salt. We get out of low-return assets, like the mature fields, and into high-return assets, like the pre-salt, which has lower production costs that generate high value,” the CEO said in the most recent earnings release.
The pre-salt reserves, which are in the deep waters off southeastern Brazil and considered one of the largest oil finds in recent decades, could make the South American country a major oil exporter.
The pre-salt layer, which is estimated to hold vast reserves of light crude oil and natural gas at depths of up to 7,000 meters (22,950 feet), is found beneath the sea floor and contains a gel-like deposit of salt that could be up to two kilometers (1.24 miles) thick.