Petrobras sells African oil business for $1.4 bn

RIO DE JANEIRO - Brazilian state oil company Petrobras announced the sale of its holdings in two Nigerian oil blocks for $1.4-billion, part of the ailing firm's bid to sell off assets and raise cash.

Petrobras will sell its 50 percent stake in the joint venture Petrobras Oil & Gas B.V. to a consortium led by Dutch energy trader Vitol, the Brazilian firm said in a statement.

"The sale... is part of Petrobras's partnerships and disinvestment program, and is aligned with our 2018-2022 business and management plan and our ongoing portfolio management, focused on investing in pre-salt fields in Brazil," the company said.

Petrobras Oil & Gas B.V. is based in the Netherlands. Petrobras's partner in the venture is BTG Pactual E&P.

Vitol's partners in the purchase are the Africa Oil Corp. and Delonex Energy Ltd. Vitol will have a 50 percent stake and the other two partners 25 percent each.

The blocks involved include two productive fields, Agbami and Akpo, and another field, Egina, that is in the final stages of development, Petrobras said.

Together, the fields currently produce around 21,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day for the Brazilian firm.

Petrobras has been left reeling by its involvement in a massive corruption scandal in Brazil, in which a laundry list of top politicians and business executives colluded to skim billions of dollars off its books.

In a bid to get back on track, the company has been slimming down its portfolio to focus on developing core assets -- particularly the hard-to-reach but potentially massive "pre-salt" fields off the Brazilian coast.

Its efforts finally appear to be paying off -- in the second quarter it registered a profit of $2.7 billion, its largest since 2011.