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Brazil's Petrobras studying ways to relieve drought-linked power crisis

RIO DE JANEIRO, June 22 (Reuters) - Brazil’s state-run oil company Petrobras is working with the national electricity regulator Aneel on ways to help relieve a looming energy crisis, as a drought in the country threatens imminent disruptions at hydroelectric power plants.

Petrobras Chief Executive Joaquim Silva e Luna and Aneel chief Andre Pepitone told Reuters they had met in Brasilia on Tuesday to discuss the possibility of the oil firm increasing the supply of natural gas to help boost the power generated by thermoelectric plants.

Other measures being studied relate to infrastructure and logistics, with Petrobras potentially even generating more electricity, the officials said.

Brazil’s hydroelectric dams are facing their lowest water levels in 91 years, according to the Mines and Energy Ministry. The electric utility sector fears the situation will worsen in the dry season, with rains typically at their lowest point in August.

Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as the company is formally called, has allocated a team of technicians to study options to relieve the situation, Luna and Pepitone said.

“Petrobras continues to be more and more committed to contributing to the mitigation of the energy problem caused by the low water inflow during this period,” Luna said.

A Petrobras representative said more meetings will be held next week.

Last week, Petrobras had signaled it would seek to increase domestic natural gas production and imports from Bolivia to supply thermoelectric plants.

Reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier, Writing by Jake Spring, Editing by Karishma Singh

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