Petrobras, the state oil company at the centre of Brazil’s vast corruption scandal, has unveiled an ambitious new five-year business plan to boost production and further reduce debt as it looks to emerge from the deepest crisis in its history.
The Rio de Janeiro-based producer said on Wednesday it would invest $84.1bn between 2019 and 2023, up from the planned investment of $74.5bn it had forecast in its 2018 to 2022 plan last year.
The company also said it was looking to raise some $26.9bn through asset sales and partnership during this period as part of its ongoing efforts to cut down on its debt pile, which stood at $72.88bn as of the end of September.
Petrobras said it plans to reduce its leverage to below 1.5 times its adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) in 2020 from the 2.7 times the ratio is currently sitting at.
The plan comes as Chicago-educated economist Roberto Castello Branco prepares to take over as Petrobras’s new chief executive on January 1 as part of incoming president Jair Bolsonaro’s new government.
The Brazilian economist will be replacing engineer Ivan Monteiro, who became interim CEO in June after Pedro Parente resigned in the wake of a devastating trucker strike against rising fuel prices.
Petrobras said it plans to be producing 2.3m barrels a day of crude oil in Brazil by 2019 and have total domestic and international oil and natural gas production of 2.8m barrels a day.
Gabriel Fonseca, analyst with XP Investimentos in São Paulo, believes the amount of planned asset disposals would be hard to execute adding it is “ambitious” especially because “a good part of that is based on the company’s hypothesis of oil prices”.
Petrobras had last year set a goal of offloading $21bn in assets before the end of 2018, but it will close the year with just $7.5bn of those being sold.
It is forecasting Brent crude price to average $66 a barrel next year, compared to the $62 the marker is trading at on Wednesday.
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