Multinational oil giant Petrobras, Brazil's state-controlled company, has offered US$ 900 million for Exxon's assets in Chile as part of its regional downstream expansion policy that includes Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay.
Earlier this month, Venezuelan state-owned company PDVSA and the US company Chevron also expressed their interest in acquiring Exxon assets in Chile but the Petrobras bid is large enough to defeat any rivals, as the Brazilian offer far outstrips the US$ 200 million minimum requested by the US oil firm.
Petrobras which several months ago registered the brand PetroChile for its operations in Chile currently holds no petroleum assets in the country.
Last month Petrobras failed to exercise a purchase option on 206 gas stations in Chile controlled by the Argentine-Spanish consortia, Repsol-YPF. The Colombian-based company Terpel successfully acquired those assets for 210 million US dollars.
The Exxon properties tied to this latest bid, which represents all of the US company's distribution operation in Chile, currently account for 16% of Chile's gasoline sales.
In Argentina Petrobras is investing 26.5 million US dollars in upgrading an Exxon refinery to comply with local environmental requirements and has a minimum share of the local fuel distribution system with the purchase of the Eg3 chain. However if it can finally acquire Exxon's 12% share it would rapidly become the second distributor, second only to YPF.
But the Brazilian state-owned company shopping spree is not only limited to South America: it recently acquired an Exxon refinery in Japan.