Peter Howard Wertheim
RIO DE JANEIRO, Feb. 14 -- The board of Brazil's state-owned Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras) has approved an agreement with Astra Oil Trading NV to acquire 50% interest in the 100,000 b/d Pasadena Refinery System Inc. (PRSI) refinery in Pasadena, Tex.
Petrobras will disburse $370 million. The initial business plan calls for joint operation, trading, and commercial management of PRSI. The PRSI refinery, formerly owned by Crown Central Petroleum Corp., is being upgraded to meet federal fuel standards.
Petrobras wants to upgrade the refinery to enable it within 4 years to handle about 70,000 b/d of heavy oil, including crude from its giant offshore Marlim field in the Campos basin.
Petrobras owns 11 of 13 refineries in Brazil. Its Brazilian refineries were built to process light oil, while most of the 1.8 million b/d of crude Brazil produces is heavy. During 2005 Petrobras refined an average of 1.758 million b/d of oil, about 94% of Brazil's consumption.
Petrobras exports heavy crude from Marlim field and imports light oil. The country's fuel supply is supplemented by fuel ethanol, which under government mandate must be blended to a 25% concentration in gasoline.