Petrobras seeks partners to refine heavy oil


Petrobras President Henri Philippe Reichstul said this week that Petrobras would seek overseas partners, possibly US refineries, to refine the increasing amount of heavy oil produced in Brazil.

Reichstul said Brazil is now producing some 200,000 b/d of heavy oil, mainly from the Marlim giant field in Campos basin off Rio de Janeiro state. He said US refineries could serve as possible source of swaps in such refining deals.

"Brazil's refining capacity was designed mainly for the light oil types we traditionally import," said Reichstul. "Now, our own production is increasing, but a certain amount of it is heavy oil, for which our refineries are not adapted."

Calling the search for heavy oil refiners "a strategic decision", Reichstul said Petrobras will initiate efforts to adapt its own refineries to heavier oil types during the next couple of years but, in the meantime, would need to refine at least some of the Marlim oil overseas.

Reichstul said the company doesn't expect to build any new refineries. Petrobras owns 11 of the 13 refineries in Brazil.

He noted that some of the refining deals could involve swaps of Brazilian heavy oil for light crude oil or oil products. However, he declined to offer details of the shape such swaps could take.

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