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Petrobras Returns to Africa with Shell Asset Acquisition

Brazil’s state oil company has bought three exploration blocks in the island nation of Sao Tome and Principe, which marks its return to Africa.

The assets were previously owned by Shell, Reuters reported. After the deal, Petrobras will hold 45% stakes in two of the blocks and a 25% stake in the third one.

In July, Petrobras’ chief financial officer Sergio Caetano Leite told Bloomberg the company was on the lookout for potential asset acquisitions after spending years selling off stakes in upstream and downstream businesses.

“Petrobras had a divestment program,” Leite told Bloomberg.

“The company has now changed sides of the table.”

Petrobras reported in May that its gross debt was $53.3 billion at the end of the first quarter of 2023, the lowest level since 2010.

Any additional investments in asset acquisitions will not put Petrobras into more debt, Leite told Bloomberg. 

Then, in November, Petrobras announced it had budgeted $102 billion in capital spending for the next five years, with the bulk of the sum to be spent on a boost in oil and gas exploration.

The five-year investment plan is a 31% increase on Petrobras’s budget for the previous five years and also an increase on earlier spending plans for the 2024-2028 period, which totaled $85 billion.

Of the latest total, some 72% will go towards boosting exploration and production, the company said. Plans are to increase the company’s average daily output to 3.2 million barrels from 2.8 million barrels at the moment. To that end, the company earlier this week started drilling in an area called the Equatorial Margin potentially rich in oil and gas.

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Petrobras plans to spend $3.1 billion from its total 2024-28 budget on exploration in that region, beginning with a confirmation of a 2014 discovery and further exploration. Over the next five years the company plans to drill 16 wells in the Equatorial Margin.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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