May 13, 2019 / 2:54 PM / a year ago

Brazil's Petrobras not planning additional refining divestments: letter

RIO DE JANEIRO, May 13 (Reuters) - Brazil's Petroleo Brasileiro SA is not planning on selling any refining assets in addition to the refineries it has already publicly slated for divestment, an executive wrote in a letter to employees last week.

In the letter, Anelise Lara, head of downstream operations, added that Petrobras, as the company is known, expected to conclude the planned sale of eight refineries in 2021.

In April, Petrobras detailed plans to sell the refineries, in a process Chief Executive Roberto Castello Branco said could fetch some $15 billion. Together, those refineries process about 1.1 million barrels per day of oil, or about half of Petrobras' current refining capacity.

In the letter, obtained by Reuters on Monday, Lara, previously head of mergers and acquisitions, described refining as strategic for the company.

Castello Branco has frequently said he does not consider refining to be Petrobras' core business. Since taking the reins in January, he has repeatedly said the company should focus on deepwater exploration and production.

"I would like to stress that refining activities remain strategic at Petrobras and we are not planning any new divestment moves in this area in addition to what has been announced," Lara wrote.

Lara said Petrobras plans to launch formal teaser documents with details about the refineries at the end of the first half of the year, in line with previous projections.

Petrobras did not immediately respond to a request for comment. (Reporting by Marta Nogueira; Writing by Gram Slattery; Editing by David Gregorio)

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