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UPDATE 2-Brazil's Petrobras redirects sales to domestic market in fourth quarter

(Adds information on January exports, scheduled stoppages)

RIO DE JANEIRO, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Brazilian state-run oil company Petrobras sharply reduced crude exports in the fourth quarter in order to accommodate relatively strong domestic demand, according to quarterly production figures released on Tuesday.

In a securities filing, Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as the company is formally known, said crude exports in the fourth quarter came to 618,000 barrels per day, down 16.6% from the previous quarter and 4.5% from the same period the year before.

The same trend appeared with various fuels that Petrobras produces, with total domestic sales volume rising 3% from the third quarter and total foreign sales volume falling 14.7%.

Domestic sales of fuel oil jumped 54.5% from the previous quarter, thanks in large part to greater demand from power plants, the company said.

In comments accompanying the quarterly figures, Petrobras acknowledged its turn toward the domestic market in the fourth quarter, but said exports were still high by historical standards and would continue to be a key element of the company’s business strategy.

It said crude exports were strong in January, reaching an all-time record at its Angra dos Reis terminal near Rio de Janeiro of 19.3 million barrels exported.

In the filing, Petrobras said it produced 2.682 million barrels of oil equivalent per day in the quarter.

That represented a decrease of 9.1% from the third quarter and 11.3% from the same quarter a year before. Petrobras had already released its year-long 2020 production figures, as well as production figures for the first three quarters of the year.

The company attributed the quarter-over-quarter decrease largely to scheduled stoppages at platforms in prolific fields, which were not possible during previous quarters due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Reporting by Gram Slattery in Rio de Janeiro Editing by Richard Pullin and Matthew Lewis

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