Petrobras to sell majority stake in oilfield block to Norway's Statoil for $2.5 bn

Brazil's state-led energy giant Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras) struck a deal to sell its majority stake in one of its largest oil and gas prospects to Norway's Statoil ASA for $2.5 billion, in a move designed to lower its massive $130-billion debt.

Half of the $2.5 billion will be paid upon closing of the transaction, with the remainder being paid when certain milestones have been met.

State-controlled Statoil will get 66-per cent ownership and operator status in BM-S-8 offshore exploration license in Brazil's highly prolific Santos basin that contains 700 million to 1.3 billion barrels of oil and equivalent natural gas.

The stake gives Statoil two-thirds of the oil and gas produced in BM-S-8 that is home to Carcarį. Carcarį was discovered in 2012, on the geological trend of the nearby Lula field and Libra.

Statoil said that it is well positioned for operatorship of a unitised Carcarį field following this transaction and the licence round will provide an opportunity to scale up the position in the field.

In addition to the Carcarį discovery, BM-S-8 holds exploration upside that may significantly increase its resource base. The licence is in its final exploration phase with one remaining exploration commitment well to be drilled by 2018.

''Through this acquisition we are accessing a world class asset, and we strengthen our position in Brazil, one of Statoil's core areas due to its large resource base and excellent fit with our technology and capabilities,'' said, Eldar Sætre, president and CEO of Statoil.

''The Carcarį field will significantly enhance our international production volumes in the 2020s and beyond. We are developing a strong Brazilian business with a broad portfolio, material production, high impact exploration opportunities and excellent potential for long term value creation and cash flow,'' he added.

Petrobras plans to sell $15.1 billion of assets in 2015 and 2016 in order to reduce its $130-billion debt, but has been able to sell assets worth only $1 billion since company employees and unions oppose divestment.

Rio de Janeiro-based Petrobras is currently the world's third most-indebted non-financial company and has already been rated as junk by the three major credit rating companies.

But the disinvestment drive has picked up momentum after Pedro Parente was appointed chief executive officer in June.

Last week, Petrobras said that it is in exclusive talks with Mexico's Alpek SAB de CV to sell its loss-making petrochemical plant in Brazil's northeast, and also plans to sell control of fuels distribution unit BR Distribuidora.