Petrobras to Boost Overseas Production with April Start-Up at Akpo

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RIO DE JANEIRO (Dow Jones Newswires), Jan. 26, 2009

Brazilian state-run energy giant Petroleo Brasileiro (PBR) will continue to boost its overseas oil production in 2009, with output at a promising oil find in Nigeria to start early in the second quarter.

Petrobras international director Jorge Luiz Zelada said production at the Akpo field, in which Petrobras holds an 11% stake, was expected to begin in April. France's Total (TOT) is lead operator in the block, while China's Cnooc (CEO) holds a 45% stake.

Zelada declined to give any early production estimates for the field, but noted that the platform installed at the field has production capacity for about 200,000 barrels of crude a day.

On Friday, Petrobras announced its 2009-2013 investment budget. The international area will see investments of $15.9 billion over the next five years.

Zelada said that the company was sticking with its current portfolio of projects, and would be unlikely to pursue new opportunities overseas as the company focuses on expensive subsalt oil development at home.

"The company believes that its current overseas portfolio is sufficient," Zelada said.

Petrobras expects to produce an average of 244,000 barrels of oil equivalent, or BOE, a day at overseas operations in 2009. That's expected to rise to an average of 341,000 BOE in 2013.

In 2008, Petrobras produced an average of 224,062 BOE a day at its international operations.

Zelada said that Petrobras will initiate drilling at five blocks in Angola in which the company holds stakes. In addition, the company contracted drilling rigs earmarked for prospects in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and West Africa.

The company also remains interested in Cuba, where the company signed an exploration and production deal with Cuba's Companhia Cubana de Petroleo last year. Currently, Petrobras is in the process of contracting seismic studies, Zelada said.

Petrobras is also studying Venezuela's Carabobo prospect. The company was currently analyzing data of the region, with an eye toward participating in a concession auction, Zelada said. According to Zelada, Venezuela's government was expected to launch the auction in April.  

Copyright (c) 2008 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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