Petrobras Could Revise NatGas Demand Projections

Brazil's federal energy company Petrobras (NYSE: PBR) will likely revise upwards its projections for natural gas demand in the country for the next few years, local press quoted the company market development manager Luziana Rachid as saying.

The company has been projecting demand to reach some 100 million cubic meters a day (Mm3/d) in 2010, up from current demand of some 40Mm3/d.

The news comes as Petrobras directors hold a series of meetings to reappraise the company's US$56bn 2006-2010 strategic investment program.

The company's top executives will hold regular meetings in coming months to appraise the investment program in the light of recent market developments, a Petrobras spokesperson told BNamericas. The revised investment program is expected to be announced at the start of the second half, the official said.

Despite recent increases in prices and lack of clear government policies for natural gas, demand continues to grow over 10% a year. In 2005, sales rose some 10% and demand is expected to increase another 15% this year, according to the Brazilian association of natural gas distribution companies Abegas.

Another indication of higher-than-projected demand is the fact that companies want to more than double the capacity of the 30Mm3/d Brazil-Bolivia natural gas pipeline (B2B) in coming years, the pipeline's operator TBG said in a statement.

According to projections by five companies, there is enough demand for 36Mm3/d of the fuel on top of existing capacity, TBG said in a statement late Monday.

TBG has recently started a process to assess demand for firm supply of the fuel which will be used to determine by how much the 3,000km pipeline needs to be expanded. Once the expansion project is ready, TBG will invite the companies that confirm their interest in buying the extra gas to invest in the expansion.

According to TBG, UK gas company BG Group (NYSE: BRG) has identified demand for 6.1Mm3/d; Spanish oil company Repsol (NYSE: REP) wants 6.7Mm3/d; Argentine oil company Pan American Energy 2.7Mm3/d; French oil company Total Total (NYSE: TOT) 5.65Mm3/d; and Petrobras itself wants 15Mm3/d, TBG said in a statement.

These companies have confirmed to TBG they are ready to sign 15-20 year firm supply contracts for the amount of gas specified.

Petrobras owns a controlling 51% stake in TBG. Other shareholders are BG Group with 29%, Bolivian gas transport company Transredes with 12%, Anglo-Dutch major Shell (NYSE: RDS) with 4% and US company Prisma Energy with 4%.

Petrobras' original expectation was for a 4Mm3/d expansion of the B2B.

B2B started operations in 2001 and carried an average of 23Mm3/d in 2005.

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