Federal Court: Petrobras Must Suspend Part of P-34 Payment

Brazil's federal audit court TCU has told federal energy company Petrobras (NYSE: PBR) to hold back US$5.27mn in payments to engineering firm GDK.

The court wants the two companies to prove that contract values to build an offshore production unit have not been artificially increased, TCU said in a statement.

Petrobras hired GDK to build the P-34 floating production, storage and offloading vessel for US$88mn. P-34 is due to produce oil and gas at the Jubarte field in the Campos basin.

TCU wants to know whether GDK artificially increased production costs by some US$14mn.

Specifically, the court wants to know why GDK billed Petrobras some US$4.8mn for specific engineering services and paid subcontractors about US$3.4mn, according to the statement.

Contract managers in Petrobras were fined 10,000 reais (nearly US$5,000) each for problems in the contracts.

TCU started probing the contracts with GDK in September 2005 after allegations surfaced from politicians and other companies.

The P-34 has capacity to produce 60,000 barrels of oil a day. First production is scheduled for September and the platform is expected to reach full capacity by year-end, a Petrobras spokesperson previously told BNamericas.

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