RIO DE JANEIRO – Petrobras, Brazil’s heavily indebted state oil company, said on Friday it had sold its majority stake in a pre-salt exploration block in the Santos Basin to Norway’s Statoil for $2.5 billion.
Statoil said half of the amount would be paid upon closing of the transaction, which comes amid a slump in global oil prices, and the remaining 50 percent after certain milestones have been met.
Petrobras held a 66 percent stake in the exploration block, while Petrogal Brasil, a unit of Portugal’s Galp Energia, has 14 percent and Rio de Janeiro-based companies Queiroz Galvao Exploracao e Producao and Barra Energia do Brasil Petroleo e Gas each have 10 percent.
“The transaction is part of Petrobras’ portfolio management policy that gives priority to investments in assets with greater potential for short-term cash generation,” Brazil’s largest company, which is also embroiled in a massive corruption scandal, said.
The sale of its stake in the BM-S-8 exploration block is Petrobras’ first in the pre-salt region, so-named because its reserves – estimated at tens of billions of barrels of crude equivalent – are located under water, rocks and a shifting layer of salt at depths of up to 7,000 meters (22,950 feet) below the surface of the Atlantic.
On Thursday, Petrobras said it had entered into talks with Mexico’s largest privately owned petrochemical company, Alpek, on the possible sale of its petrochemical assets in the northeastern Brazilian state of Pernambuco.
The state-controlled oil company is carrying out a divestment plan aimed at reducing its hefty 450-billion-reais ($136.5 billion) debt load and improve its cash position.