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Petrobras inks accord with China's CNPC for Comperj refinery, Marlim crude

By
Renzo Pipoli

Oct. 16 (UPI) -- Brazilian state oil company Petrobras signed an accord with China National Petroleum Corp. for a partnership where both companies will work toward evaluating and possibly completing a Rio refinery project, and which will also give CNPC a share of the Marlim crude oil production.

Petrobras said Tuesday in an exchange stock filing that both companies will evaluate advances made at Comperj project and that if economic viability is confirmed, they will set up a joint venture with Petrobras keeping 80 percent and CNPC the remainder. The accord contemplates giving CNPC a 20 percent in production of a Marlim crude cluster.

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"Marlim has characteristic perfectly suited for processing in the Comperj refinery, which was projected to run heavy crudes," Petrobras said referring to the offshore grade produced some 65 miles offshore Rio de Janeiro in deep waters. The Marlim concessions that are part of the accord are Marlim, Voador, Marlim Sul and Marlim Leste, it added.

Petrobras described the accord as an "important step." It added that whether or not it will lead to the refinery completion of construction depends on final negotiations once economic viability studies end.

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Petrobras and CNPC are partners in an area known as Libra in the Santos basin since 2013. In 2017, a consortium 40 percent owned by Petrobras, 40 percent owned by BP and 20 percent owned by CNPC acquired rights for the Peroba area.

Petrobras produces about 2.7 million barrels of oil equivalent daily and has a refining capacity of 2.3 million barrels of crude oil, while CNPC produces 3.3 million barrels of oil equivalent and has capacity to process three million barrels of oil, the filing said.

Comperj, a Portuguese acronym for Petrochemical Complex of Rio de Janeiro, was envisioned at one point as a production complex for refining and petrochemicals. It has seen about $14 billion in spending but work on it has been stopped since 2015.

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There is construction underway for a natural gas processing plant within the area. Petrobras tapped China's Shandong Kerui for the construction work in March, representing a $590 million investment.

Petrobras has been involved in investigations in Brazil related to schemes where project costs for infrastructure where inflated in exchange for bribes, a case popularly known as "Car Wash."

According to O Globo, the Comperj refinery project became a "symbol" of the corruption scheme revealed by the investigations.

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