The cash recovery is costing Petrobras its oil and gas production, which in 2018 plummeted to the level of four years ago when Operation Lava Jato revealed a scheme of corruption in the company. To reduce the debt, the oil company sold producer fields and cut investment. Today it spends less on exploration and production than it did a decade ago.
As a consequence, the extraction of oil and the conversion of the raw material into fuels have shrunk. To compensate, the state expanded the import.
Petrobras should be growing like the big oil companies, and the debt reduction should be done at any cost, “says the oil and gas specialist, professor of the Energy Economics Group at UFRJ, Edmar Almeida.
In 2018, Petrobras produced 2.62 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, including oil and natural gas – the worst performance since 2014. This downward trajectory began two years ago, one after the start of the financial recovery process. The UFRJ professor recalled that most of the assets that Petrobras has sold since then were oil fields because he has found resistance in court to dispose of other assets.
Sought, the company did not inform the reason for the drop in production. However, in the financial result, it indicated three justifications: the sale of holdings in the Lapa and Roncador fields, the completion of production tests in two other areas (Itapu and Tartaruga Verde) and the “natural decline in production“, which means that is recovering losses with mature fields that have entered the exhaustion phase, mainly in the Campos Basin.
In all, Petrobras disposed of R $ 20 billion in assets in 2018. The highlights were agreements for the transfer of fields to France’s Total, the Norwegian Equinor, and the North American Murphy. The money raised was directed, above all, to the payment of debts. Thus, the state company managed to reach the financial goal and made a profit of R $ 25.8 billion, sustained by the rise in oil and the appreciation of the dollar.