Brazil oil ship explosion death toll rises to five

February 13, 2015

AP – The Guardian, 2/12/2015

Two bodies were found inside an oil ship that exploded off Brazil’s coast, increasing the death toll to five, the oil workers union said on Thursday.

The Oil Workers Union of the state of Espírito Santo, where Wednesday’s explosion took place, said rescue teams are searching for four who remain missing. It said 10 workers were injured in the blast.

The union said on its Facebook page that the two bodies were found inside the engine room of the vessel, one of many floating oil production, storage and offloading units that state-run oil company Petrobras employs in developing Brazil’s massive offshore oil fields.

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Whose oil in Brazil?

February 13, 2015

The Economist (print edition), 2/14/2015

THE slogan under which Petrobras, Brazil’s national oil company, was founded in 1953 was o petróleo é nosso (“the oil is ours”). Ours, not the foreigners’, was the implication. That, too, is the sentiment behind the oil policy of the Workers’ Party (PT) governments that have ruled Brazil since 2003. But as Brazilians contemplate the huge corruption scandal now engulfing Petrobras, they might ask themselves just who “ours” refers to.

The PT disliked a successful reform of Petrobras in the 1990s, which stripped it of its monopoly of production and distribution while subjecting it to market discipline and arm’s-length corporate governance. When the company and its new foreign partners made huge deep-sea oil strikes in 2007 Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s president, saw a chance partially to restore Petrobras’s monopoly. New oil laws drawn up by Dilma Rousseff, his chief of staff and successor, gave the company sole operating rights and a minimum 30% stake in the new fields.

Lula and Ms Rousseff saw oil as the spearhead of an industrial policy that involved fostering favoured sectors and presumed national champions. Lula ordered Petrobras to build four new refineries, three in the poor north-east. A new rule required up to 85% of equipment and supplies for the oil industry to be nationally produced. A dozen new shipyards studded the Brazilian coast, fed on cheap government loans. They provided 74,000 new jobs, boasted Ms Rousseff during her campaign last year for a second term. “We created an immense industry.”

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Petrobras Hits Drilling Snag at Brazil’s Biggest-Ever Oil Find

February 12, 2015

Peter Millard and Sabrina Valle – Bloomberg Business, 2/10/2015

Petroleo Brasileiro SA redirected a well at its biggest oil discovery after encountering a pressure zone, underscoring the technical challenges facing the producer’s new management team.

The “drilling phase” of the well at the offshore Libra field hasn’t been halted because of the procedure, the Rio de Janeiro-based state-run company said in an e-mailed response to questions Tuesday. A snag caused the company to halt drilling for more than a week, two people with knowledge of the matter said earlier, asking not to be named because the matter isn’t public. Libra is expected to start commercial output in 2020.

While Petrobras expanded output to a record in December at the so-called pre-salt region that holds Brazil’s largest deposits, it has also run into drilling disruptions in the past. In 2010, it abandoned the first well it started at Libra, citing mechanical issues. In 2011, it briefly halted production at the Sapinhoa field in the same region after a pipe ruptured.

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Explosion Kills Three Aboard Petrobras Offshore Natural Gas Platform In Brazil

February 12, 2015

Kenneth Rapoza – Forbes, 2/11/2015

Brazilian oil major Petrobras faced another negative on Wednesday when a floating production (FPSO) facility it was renting from BW Offshore suffered an explosion that killed three of its workers.

The explosion occurred at 12:50 local time today on board the FPSO vessel known as Cidade de São Mateus, operating on the Camarupim and Camarupim Norte fields that sit roughly 60 miles off the coast of Espirito Santo state. BW Offshore, a U.S. oil services company, said in a statement that 10 people were injured, and three were killed in the blast.

Petrobras triggered the emergency response immediately. Production has been stopped and the unit has been shut down, BW Offshore said.

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Petrobras top management resigns in Brazil corruption case

February 4, 2015

Sabrina Valle/Dense Godoy – Bloomberg, 02/04/2015

Petroleo Brasileiro SA Chief Executive Officer Maria das Gracas Foster and five of her top managers stepped down amid a corruption probe that’s wiped out billions of dollars of the oil producer’s market value and threatens Brazil’s economic revival. Shares gained.

State-run Petrobras’s board of directors will meet Friday to elect replacements for Foster and her management team, it said in a one-sentence statement Wednesday. It’s unclear whether the managers will remain until replacements are found. No single CEO candidate has yet emerged publicly.

The Rio de Janeiro-based company is facing allegations that at least three former executives were bribed to award construction contracts. Foster, 61, is an engineer who rose through the ranks to become the first female CEO of Latin America’s largest publicly traded oil company in 2012. Her resignation comes after the stock sank as much as 70 percent from a September peak.

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Brazil graft case sets back economy

February 2, 2015

Marla Dickerson/Rogerio Jelmayer – The Wall Street Journal, 02/01/2015

A corruption scandal at state-controlled Petróleo Brasileiro SA has created political headaches for President Dilma Rousseff . Now it’s threatening Brazil’s economy.

What began as a probe of money launderers operating out of a gas station has reached the executive suites of Petrobras and the nation’s best-known construction firms, which prosecutors accuse of ripping off the oil giant. The fallout is battering some of the nation’s most important business sectors.

Petrobras, Brazil’s largest company and a major source of capital investment, is in chaos. Still scrambling to calculate the extent of the massive fraud, it has canceled planned projects and delayed payments to accused contractors, setting off a chain of defaults and credit downgrades.

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Brazil’s Petrobras announces refinery delays

January 30, 2015

EFE – Fox News Latino, 1/28/2015

Brazilian state-controlled oil company Petrobras, which is mired in a massive corruption scandal, said the delivery of two refineries currently under construction will have to be delayed amid allegations of inflated contracts.

Thursday’s announcement came a day after the company said it decided to cancel two other refinery projects in the northeastern states of Maranhao and Ceara.

Petrobras’ downstream director, Jose Carlos Cosenza, said in a press conference that the delivery of the Abreu e Lima refinery and Rio de Janeiro Petrochemical Complex will be delayed while the contracts are renegotiated with the construction companies, who face accusations of illegal overcharging.

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