Oil giant gets $3.5b loan from China

Updated: 2015-04-20 03:43

By Xiao Lixin in Beijing(China Daily Latin America)

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Brazilian State-owned oil enterprise Petroleo Brasileiro SA signed a financing agreement worth $3.5 billion with China Development Bank on April 15, part of a cooperation deal covering this year and next.

The two parties will "initiate talks in regard to further cooperation in near future", read a statement from the Brazilian company, better known as Petrobras.

Analysts said the loan could be a lifeline for the struggling oil enterprise, which in February saw its Moody's rating slip to Ba2 from the previous Baa3.

According to the Brazilian Association of Capital Market Investors, last year Petrobras reported debts totaling $102.3 billion, up 83 percent from two years ago. The figures make it the world's most heavily indebted oil company.

Since its peak in 2009, the company's market value has fallen from $179.6 billion to $35 million, with an accumulated decline of 80.5 percent, the data show. Today it is the fourth-largest Brazilian public company.

Due to financial pressures, Petrobras had to cut its $220 billion investment plan to $16 billion, and also plans to sell assets worth a combined $13.7 billion in the next two years. The sharp depreciation of Brazil's real against the US dollar has also hit the company hard.

The financing agreement is not the first time the oil enterprise has cooperated with China Development Bank. The two parties, along with Sinopec, inked an oil-for-loan deal in November 2009, which secured Sinopec a 10-year crude export contract and Petrobras a 10-year loan worth $10 billion from the bank, which was disbursed in 2012.

Lin Boqiang, director of Xiamen University's China Center for Energy Economics Research, in Fujian province, said he believes there will be further cooperation.

"It's a perfect time to negotiate for the Chinese side, given the poor financial condition of Petrobras and the low global oil price," he said. "Perhaps what follows the loan will be resource exchanges, such as crude exports or other cooperation programs."