‘Today is not a happy day for Petrobras’: Chief executive speaks out on asset sale he fought to block

Petrobras chief executive Jean Paul Prates took to social media to voice his dissatisfaction over the closing of the sale of the Potiguar cluster in Brazil to local independent 3R Petroleum.

The $1.45 billion deal was one of five divestments that had contracts signed and awaiting final regulatory approvals before Prates was appointed as Petrobras boss earlier this year.

“Today is not a happy day for Petrobras in Rio Grande do Norte,” Prates said in a social media post criticising the sale of numerous fields and other infrastructure in the north-eastern state where we was elected as senator in the past.

Petrobras late last week closed the sale of the Potiguar cluster to 3R, turning the Brazilian player into the second largest independent company in the South American nation with a production of about 42,500 barrels of oil equivalent per day and behind only Prio.

The divestment included 20 fields, being 17 onshore and three offshore, as well as associated production, the Clara Camarao refinery, oil, gas and water processing stations, an administrative base and more.

The operation was concluded with the upfront payment of $1.1 billion to Petrobras. The amount received is in addition to the $110 million paid by 3R when the contract was signed back in January 2022.

Article continues below the advert

Petrobras is also due to receive another $235 million, which will be paid in four annual instalments of $58.75 million each, starting in March 2024.

“As senator, I fought hard so that the Potiguar cluster was not sold. Unfortunately, despite this, the sale was consummated before my inauguration as Petrobras president,” said Prates.

He added Petrobras will honour contracts that have been signed by the previous administration, despite his desire to keep the assets.

In April, the oil company finalised the sale of the North Capixaba onshore cluster to Seacrest Petroleo for more than $500 million.

Three signed Petrobras divestments are still waiting for closing – the sale of the Golfinho and Camarupim fields to BW Energy for $75 million, the sale of the Lubnor refinery to Grepar for $34 million and the sale of the Pescada, Arabaiana and Dentao shallow-water fields to 3R for $1.5 million.

Petrobras will continue in the Potiguar basin via its offshore exploration tracts, which includes Block BM-POT-17, where the company intends to spud the Pitu-2 appraisal well to assess the commerciality of the maiden Pitu find.