• Petrobras said to wait on exploration data to offer field
  • Petrobras pulled field from earlier divestment plan: people

Brazil’s struggling state-controlled oil company Petrobras is waiting on exploration data from a promising deep-water field to decide if it will be included in a divestment plan, said two people familiar with the issue.

The Rio de Janeiro-based producer is waiting on a second well test in the northern section of the Carcara field before deciding to seek buyers for its stake in the project, said the people, who asked not to be named because the information isn’t public. Carcara, located in the so-called pre-salt region that holds Brazil’s biggest discoveries, was offered to investors earlier this year, and then Petrobras removed it from a group of offshore assets to wait for additional drilling results that could make it more attractive, the people said.

Petrobras didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Petrobras operates the concession with a 66 percent stake. Its partners are Galp Energia, QGEP Participacoes and Barra Energia.

Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as the company is formally known, is pursuing $15.1 billion in asset sales by the end of 2016 to help finance investments and reduce leverage after a borrowing binge during the commodities boom quadrupled its debt to the most of any oil company. Petrobras is also slashing investments as it faces $24 billion in debt repayments in 2016 and 2017.

The divestment plan has been complicated by the global rout in oil prices and a massive pay-to-play scandal at the biggest producer in deep waters. Members of Petrobras’s former management team have been jailed for allegedly taking bribes to award contracts in a scheme that also benefited parties in Brazil’s ruling coalition. The resulting political crisis will make it harder for Petrobras to find buyers, Edmar Almeida, an energy specialist at the Rio de Janeiro Federal University, said at a Thursday event in Rio.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s head of Brazil, Andre Araujo, said Dec. 2 that the company is looking at everything Petrobras is offering with “caution and transparency,” and that working with Petrobras forms part of operating in Brazil’s oil industry.

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