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Brazil’s Petrobras boosts production outlook in recovery from COVID-19 halts

Brazilian state-run oil company Petrobras said on Tuesday that 2020 production should exceed previously disclosed estimates, as the firm ramps up production at some of its most prolific offshore oilfields.

Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as the company is formally known, said it expects to produce roughly 2.84 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) this year, up from its previous estimate of 2.7 million boepd. Crude output should reach 2.28 million barrels per day, the company said, up from its previous estimate of 2.2 million bpd.

Both estimates have a margin of error of 1.5 percentage points.

The revision will not come as a shock to the market as the company has consistently produced at levels above formal guidance this year, and executives had previously faced questions about whether their guidance was too conservative.

But it nonetheless underlines how Petrobras has been able to recover quickly from the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, which severely hit demand for its fuels and caused various stoppages at its oil production facilities amid COVID-19 outbreaks.

The revised outlook came as the company released its third quarter production figures.

In a securities filing, the company said it produced 2.952 million boepd in the third quarter, up 5.4% from the previous quarter and up 2.6% from the same period last year.

The company attributed the increased production in part to the ramp-up of its Atapu field and a strong performance at the Buzios offshore field, one of the world’s largest.

The company called its third quarter production figures “very good, considering the challenging situation imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Petrobras added that it was not suffering from an excess of crude or fuel stocks, and that current stocks were below pre-pandemic levels.

Refinery utilization rates were fluctuating at levels around 80% in the third quarter, up from lows of 55% in April.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Gram Slattery; Additional reporting by Roberto Samora; Editing by Christian Plumb and Grant McCool)

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