INTERVIEW: Petrobras delays startup of Abreu e Lima refinery to 2014: CFO
Tokyo (Platts)--16 Oct 2012 721 am EDT/1121 GMT
Brazil's Petrobras expects to start up the 230,000 b/d Abreu e Lima
refinery in Pernambuco state in 2014, with "60% of the refinery has already
been built," company chief financial officer Almir Barbassa told Platts
Monday. The company had previously said it expected to launch the plant in
This will be the first of four new refineries being built by Petrobras
in Brazil to add a combined capacity of 1.46 million b/d by 2020, in a bid to
meet the country's growing demand for middle distillates, Barbassa said in an
interview in Tokyo.
Barbassa said Petrobras was also in negotiations with Venezuelan
state-owned oil company PDVSA over building the Abreu e Lima plant, although
he declined to elaborate when asked about PDVSA's participation in the
Petrobras' top refining official, Claudio Romeo Schlosser, said in May
that PDVSA had until December to participate in the refinery project, but
added that the plant would still come on stream in mid-2013 even without
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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and former Brazilian President Ignacio
Lula agreed in 2005 to share the refinery's costs, and a deal was signed in
2008. But PDVSA has yet to pay anything and Brazil has given Venezuela a
number of extensions on the deal to allow Caracas time to secure loan
guarantees for its 40% stake in the joint venture.
However, in recent years, doubts have been cast about PDVSA's commitment
to the project, which has an overall price tag of about $15 billion and would
have half of its 230,000 b/d capacity dedicated to refining heavy Venezuelan
By 2016, Barbassa said Petrobras plans to bring online the first of the
two phases at the Comperj refinery in Rio de Janeiro state, with a capacity
of 165,000 b/d. The company plans to process Brazilian heavy crude grades at
the two facilities.
In its 2012-2016 investment plan, Petrobras earmarked total investment
of $71.6 billion in its downstream sector, focusing on modernizing and
expanding its refining facilities.
Of the total downstream capex, $55.8 billion has already been approved
for implementation, and $15.8 billion is yet to be approved and under
At present, Petrobras is processing about 2.08 million b/d of crude
through its refineries, out of a total capacity of around 2.10 million b/d,
He added that Petrobras' refining capacity has risen from 1.8 million
b/d in 2010 after units were added at some of its refineries in the country.
With Brazilian domestic product demand of around 2.20 million b/d,
Petrobras currently imports diesel and jet fuel to cover the gap, Barbassa
Looking ahead, Petrobras plans to start up the second phase of the
Comperj refinery with an additional capacity of 165,000 b/d, as well as the
600,000 b/d Premium I refinery in Maranhao state -- in two phases of 300,000
b/d each -- and the Premium II refinery in Ceara state by 2020, Barbassa
Unlike its planned processing of heavier crudes at the Abreu e Lima
refinery and the first phase of the Comperj facility, Petrobras plans to
process lighter grades from its pre-salt reservoirs at the second phase of
Comperj, and at the Premium I and Premium II refineries, Barbassa said.
These new refineries will be designed to focus on producing middle
distillates, which will account for 70% of total output, Barbassa said.
"We are not looking for gasoline because we have ethanol and have other
refineries that can produce gasoline," he said.
Barbassa added, however, that for these other refineries -- which are
scheduled to come on stream by 2020 -- Petrobras still needs to complete
appraisal and evaluation before moving ahead.
"They have to be proved to give returns we are looking for," Barbassa
said. "We are looking for having best international costs for building these
refineries. We can consider partners."
South Korean refiner GS Caltex has entered talks with Petrobras about
the possibility of participating in the 300,000 b/d Premium II refinery in
Ceara state. Barbassa described the talks as "just discussions."
"Nothing has been signed and agreed so far," he added.
--Takeo Kumagai, firstname.lastname@example.org
--Edited by James Leech, email@example.com