RIO DE JANEIRO, April 19 (Xinhua) -- Brazilian national oil company Petrobras announced on Thursday it is reducing its stake in four oil refineries as part of its ongoing divestment of assets program.
In a statement, Petrobras President Pedro Parente said this sale included the refineries of Abreu e Lima S.A. in northeastern Brazil, as well as the refineries of Alberto Pasqualini and Presidente Getulio Vargas, in the south of the country, as well as 12 associated terminals.
Petrobras is seeking to keep a 40 percent stake in the refineries, while associated companies will own 60 percent stakes.
According to Parente, this means that Petrobras will maintain control of 75 percent of the Brazilian refining market, as it fully owns nine other refineries as well as 36 terminals, mostly in the southeast of the country.
Explaining the reason for the sale, Parente said that a monopoly in any sector is bad for the economy and that this will open spaces for other companies to enter the refining segment.
"When you have a sole actor operating in the sector, when this company is doing badly, the whole chain will suffer as well. Therefore, the diversification will also bring an advantage to the supply chain," said the president.
The proposal must be approved by Petrobras' board of directors in May and the sale will seek to happen around the end of 2018.
The president of Petrobras said this latest sale was part of the firm's long-term divestment plan. It is seeking to sell assets worth 21 billion U.S. dollars in 2017 and 2018 in order to lower its massive debt.
Petrobras saw losses of 446 million reais (about 137 million U.S. dollars) in 2017, the fourth consecutive year it finished in the red.
As the largest company in Brazil, Petrobras has been devastated by the discovery of a major corruption ring within its ranks which embezzled billions of dollars from 2003 to 2013.