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August 17, 2016

Volume 17 Issue 52

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Petrobras Drops Assets in Latin America

Ongoing financial trouble has lead Brazil’s state-owned oil company Petrobras to divest lubricant operations in Chile and Argentina, including blending plants in both countries.

Petrobras sold 100 percent of its assets in Petrobras Chile Distribution to private equity firm Southern Cross Group for U.S. $464 million. Petrobras’ operations in Chile included a blending plant in the capital of Santiago, 279 service stations and eight distribution terminals, according to a Petrobras press release.

The blend plant had capacity of 14,000 metric tons per year when Petrobras acquired it from Chevron Chile in 2009.

Petrobras also sold all of its 67.19 percent stake in Petrobras Argentina to Argentinian energy company Pampa Energía for $897 million, the Brazilian oil giant stated in another press release. Petrobras Argentina engaged in upstream and downstream operations, and its main products include lubricants, petrochemicals, fuels and asphalts.

Petrobras Argentina’s assets include a lube oil manufacturing plant, a laboratory and a distribution center for Petrobras’ Lubrax-brand products, all located in the city of Avellaneda, in Buenos Aires province, read a filing from Petrobras on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s website.

Petrobras did not provide details of the current production capacity or output of its lubricant facilities.

These divestments are part of Petrobras’ 2015-2019 Business and Management Plan, which seeks to sell assets valued at around $15.1 billion. Thirty percent of those assets are from Petrobras’ downstream operations, according to the document.

Sergio Rebelo, managing director for Factor de Solução, consultancy Kline & Co.’s affiliate company in Latin America, told a reporter that the company is considering the sale of Petrobras Distribuidora, the subsidiary which handles all downstream activities in Brazil, including refineries, base oils, lubricants, fuels, service stations and petrochemicals businesses.

“Until last year, Petrobras’ plan was to sell a minority stake of the company [Petrobras Distribuidora], but we understand that there were no offers under this model. Now they are considering keeping the control of the business, but giving the acquirer the management of the business,” said Rebelo.

Despite the divestments, Petrobras is the leading lubricants supplier in Brazil with a market share of approximately 25 percent, Rebelo mentioned. It also leads in Paraguay with a market share of around 19 percent and is the second-largest supplier in Uruguay. It has a market share in Colombia of about 2 percent and held 5 percent and 3 percent market shares, respectively, in Argentina and Chile.

Brazil is the largest lubricants market in Latin America with about 52 percent of the share, said Rebelo. Demand for lubricants in Brazil was estimated by Factor-Kline to be at 1.3 million tons in 2015, but it was the second consecutive year of decline.

“The 6 percent decrease in 2015 makes it evident that the current economic crisis in Brazil is deeply affecting lubricants consumers in all segments,” said Rebelo, adding that a further retraction of 4 percent to 6 percent is expected in 2016.

Photo: Bruno Covas / Flickr

Rio de Janeiro-based Petrobras is making a series of divestments in order to prioritize oil exploration and production projects in Brazil.