2006, the Year Brazil Turns from Oil Importer to Exporter

Brazil’s government owned energy giant Petrobras plans to increase investments by 48% in 2006 and forecasts the company will reach a daily production in the range of 1.9 million barrels, reported this week top officials from the company.

Financial Director Almir Barbassa said Petrobras estimates that in 2006 the company will manage a US$ 3 billion surplus between imports and exports of crude and other byproducts.

"This will be a historic figure if we compare it with the US$ 130 million deficit of 2005 and the US$ 3 billion deficit of 2004", added Mr. Barbassa on announcing the company’s 2005 balance and prospects.

Petrobras profits in 2005 reached the equivalent of US$ 10.3 billion, 40% above 2004, while daily petroleum production increased 13% to an average 1.68 million bpd.

"But we’re expecting further growth in 2006, with improved earnings, possibly another record year", added Barbassa, since Petrobras estimates that average production will reach 1.9 million bpd, 13% increase over 2005.

Brazil’s domestic consumption ranges from 1.8 to 1.85 million bpd, meaning in 2006 the country will become self sufficient and a hydrocarbons net exporter.

The increase in production will be achieved when two new rigs begin extracting oil next March/April in the rich Campos basin, off Rio do Janeiro. Another rig in the neighboring state of Espí­rito Santo will add 100.000 bpd of light crude helping to further reduce imports.

Last year Brazil imported an average 446.000 bpd of hydrocarbons, of which 360.000 crude. Exports reached 504.000 bpd, of which 250.000 refined by products and 301.000 bpd crude.

This was the first time ever Brazil managed a surplus 58.000 bpd which in the last quarter actually climbed to 126.000 bpd anticipating this year’s expected tendency.

But since Brazilian heavy oil is cheaper that imported light crude, the financial result was a US$ 130 million deficit in 2005.

With daily production increasing 215.000 barrels, Petrobras estimates exports to surge to 150.000 bpd, mainly crude oil, since the country’s refining capacity is at its limit, said Mr. Barbassa.

Petrobras January’s domestic oil and gas daily production was equivalent to 2.013.607 barrels, up 11.8% from a year ago, but almost unchanged from December 2005. Worldwide production was equivalent to 2.265.990 barrels per day, 9.9% over January 2005, but similar to last December.

Domestic petroleum production in January was 1.750.529 bpd, similar to last December, but natural gas was 41.8 million cubic meters per day, 1.5% less.

Petrobras CEO José Sergio Gabrielli announced an ambitious investment program for 2006 totaling US$ 18 billion, which represents a 48% increase over last year’s US$ 12 billion.

"The sustained growth of the company means a more active presence in international markets and will help consolidate, in 2006, Brazil’s oil self sufficiency", underlined Mr. Gabrielli.

Most investments, 60%, will be in exploration and production, to increase proven oil and natural gas reserves as well as developing existing deposits. Another 15% is earmarked for "supplies" and transforming the country’s refineries to work with the heavier local petroleum.

Although Petrobras is under government control, a percentage of its shares trade in the stock exchanges of New York, Madrid and São Paulo.

The company operates in Angola, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Ecuador, United States, Equatorial Guinea, United Kingdom, Iran, Japan, Libya, Mexico, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Paraguay, Peru, Singapore, Tanzania, Trinidad y Tobago, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Mercopress – www.mercopress.com

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