Brazilian state-owned oil firm Petrobras has disclosed that it intends to sell a 50% stake it owns in a Nigerian joint venture. Other firms which are involved in the joint venture include Helios Investment Partners which has a stake of 10% and a BTG Pactual E&P BV subsidiary which owns a 40% stake. Besides Nigeria, Petrobras has a presence in three other African countries, namely Angola, Gabon and Tanzania.
According to Petrobas, some of the Nigerian oilfields in which the joint venture has stakes in and where oil exploration and production is ongoing include Agbami and Akpo. Under the divestment program, rights of exploration and production to the Egina and Preowei oil field will also be sold. At the Egina oilfield production is expected to begin late next year while the Preowei oilfield is still being assessed.
In the Egina and Akpo oilfields French oil firm Total holds the operating stake while in the Agbami oilfield the San Ramon, California-based oil firm Chevron Corporation holds the operating stake. It is estimated that the joint venture holds liquid reserves totaling approximately 204 million barrels. On a daily basis 48,000 barrels are produced though the levels are expected to rise to 75,000 barrels a day by 2019.
Petrobras’ decision to sell its stake is part of the energy giant’s plan to whittle down its debt. Currently its net debt stands at close to $89.2 billion. In the next one year the oil giant expects to offload assets valued at $21 billion.
Petrobras corruption scandal
The move by Petrobras to divest coincides with the guilty plea of a former chief executive officer of SBM Offshore, an oil-services firm, in a corruption scandal involving the oil giant. Anthony Mace, the ex-CEO of SBM, admitted to violating the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practises Act in Houston, Texas. An ex-sales executive of the oil-services firm, Robert Zubiate, had also made a guilty plea to the same.
In his guilty plea Zuabiate acknowledged conspiring with other senior executives at SBM with a view to bribing officials of Petrobras in order to be awarded contracts. Mace on the other hand made approvals of payments to a couple of Brazilian nationals in order to get lucrative contracts awarded to SBM by Petrobras. Authorities in Brazil also charged Mace two years ago on charges of corruption and racketeering in relation to SBM’s efforts to get business from Petrobras. The corruption scandal involving Petrobras has been ongoing for four years now.