Petrobras to sell stake in Nigeria unit to Vitol-led group for $1.5 bln

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The logo of Brazil's state-run Petrobras oil company is seen on a tank in at Petrobras Paulinia refinery in Paulinia, Brazil July 1, 2017. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker

SAO PAULO, Oct 31 – Brazil’s Petroleo Brasileiro SA will sell its 50 percent stake in a Nigerian oil and gas exploration venture to a consortium led by top oil trader Vitol for $1.53 billion, the latest step in the state-controlled oil company’s debt reduction drive, according to a securities filing on Wednesday.

The other 50 percent stake in Petrobras Oil and Gas BV, also known as Petrobras Africa, is owned by Brazilian investment bank BTG Pactual, which in a Wednesday filing confirmed a Reuters report that it would likely hang on to its portion after previously mulling a sale.

Petrobras, one of the world’s most indebted oil majors, had targeted $21 billion in asset sales for 2017 and 2018, but only succeeded in unloading $9.5 billion worth by the end of the first half

The deal involves a stake in some of two deepwater exploration blocks that are among Nigeria’s largest and lowest-cost fields. Swiss-based Vitol is expected to shoulder the largest part of the investment, spending an estimated $1 billion, according to a Reuters report in June about the oil trader’s interest..

Vancouver-based Africa Oil Corp and Delonex Energy, an Africa-focused oil company, are members of the consortium.

Petrobras earlier this year sold a 25 percent stake in Roncador, one of Brazil’s largest oil fields, to Norway’s Equinor ASA for about $2 billion.

It is also in talks to sell its TAG gas pipeline unit, probably to a group led by France´s Engie SA, for more than $7 billion, although the process has been halted by a Brazilian Supreme Court injunction.

A source with direct knowledge of Petrobras’ operations told Reuters on Tuesday that the oil company wished to obtain an additional $20 billion through asset sales through the end of next year.

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Godwin Okafor is a Financial Journalist, Internet Social Entrepreneur and Founder of Naija247news Media Limited. He has over 16 years experience in financial journalism. His experience cuts across traditional and digital media. He started his journalism career at Business Day, Nigeria and founded Naija247news Media in 2010. Godwin holds a Bachelors degree in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from the Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos. He is an alumni of Lagos Business School and a Fellow of the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton Seminar for Business Journalists). Over the years, he has won a number of journalism awards. Godwin is the chairman of Emmerich Resources Limited, the publisher of Naija247news.

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