(Adds details on divestment program, comments from Petrobras
SAO PAULO, March 22 Petróleo Brasileiro SA on
Wednesday raised a goal for asset divestitures and partnerships
for 2017 and 2018 to $21 billion from $19.5 billion, a sign
Brazil's state-controlled oil company plans to expand ventures
with peers in segments from refining to oil exploration.
In a presentation detailing fourth-quarter results, Petrobras
Chief Financial Officer Ivan Monteiro said a recent
ruling by Brazil's auditing court TCU regarding the plan will
speed up its execution, not slow it down.
"The court ruling will demand some additional administrative
work, but now we have a method validated by Justice and have
ways to speed up the program," Monteiro told market analysts and
The auditing court imposed some additional phases to any
asset sale process, saying it wanted to increase transparency
and allow for a larger participation of interested companies.
. Petrobras agreed to the proposed changes.
The Brazilian firm is particularly keen on restarting the
sale process of fuels distribution unit BR Distribuidora, the
country's largest distributor and fuel retailer with 7,500 gas
Petrobras downstream director Jorge Celestino said the
company remains very interested in finding partners for its
Differently from other areas of the industry in Brazil, such
as exploration and distribution, where many companies compete
with Petrobras, the refining sector is basically exclusively
operated by the state-controlled company.
"If you look at the oil industry chain in Brazil, it makes a
lot of sense for us to seek partners in refining," Celestino
Petrobras cut debt by 20 percent and had positive free cash
flow for the seventh straight quarter on the fourth quarter,
according to earnings report released on Tuesday.
(Reporting by Marcelo Teixeira, Guillermo Parra-Bernal and
Gustavo Bonato Editing by W Simon and David Gregorio)