UPDATE 3-Brazil's Petrobras forges ahead with downstream, midstream divestments

(Adds information on platforms, updates share price)

RIO DE JANEIRO, July 31 (Reuters) - Brazilian state-run oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA expects to conclude negotiations on the sale of its RLAM refinery in northeastern Brazil in the near future and is pushing ahead with the IPO of a gas pipeline unit, executives said on Friday.

Speaking to analysts following the release of the company’s second-quarter results, Chief Executive Roberto Castello Branco said the firm expects to seal a sale agreement for the refining unit within the next “one to two months.”

Abu Dhabi’s investment fund Mubadala Investment Co is in exclusive negotiations with Petrobras, as the Brazilian company is commonly known, after presenting the highest bid for the asset in June.

During the same call, Petrobras downstream chief Anelise Lara said Petrobras is pushing ahead with plans announced in 2019 to sell a clutch of offshore natural gas pipelines via an initial public offering. She said the IPO would not occur until 2021, though the company expects to seal an agreement with partners such as Repsol SA and Galp Energia SGPS SA that would be needed to go forward with the deal by the end of the third quarter.

Overall, the comments illustrate the bullish position of Petrobras regarding its ambitious divestment program, despite the reduced financial appetite for some assets due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Regarding output, Petrobras upstream head Carlos Alberto Pereira de Oliveira reiterated previous assertions that production would be lower in the second half of the year, hit by scheduled maintenance stoppages. He predicted eight such stoppages of approximately 15 days each.

After a long tradition of naming its leased platforms after cities, the company has decided to change its naming criteria to honor “national heroes,” the executives said. Two admirals, Almirante Barroso and Almirante Tamandare, are among the names selected by Petrobras for large platforms known as FPSOs. The vessels will be placed in the Buzios field, the world’s largest oil discovery this century.

Brazil-listed shares of Petrobras were off 2.3% in afternoon trade, roughly in line with the nation’s benchmark Bovespa equities index.

Reporting by Sabrina Valle and Gram Slattery Editing by Grant McCool and Matthew Lewis