PetroChina, the largest Chinese oil company, is studying to partner with Sinopec in the project for the refinery Premium I in the state of Maranhão. Discussions on the project have advanced in the last week in two meetings held in Rio de Janeiro, one in the ANP and another in the EPE.
The first meeting took place on December 12 at the headquarters of EPE. The Minister of Mines and Energy, Fernando Coelho Filho, received representatives from Sinopec and presented an overview of the refining market in the country.
The businessman from Pernambuco and president of Petra Energia, Roberto Viana, and consultant Winston Fritsch (former president of Petra) participated in the meeting. The meeting was also attended by former Petrobras director José Antonio de Figueiredo.
The relationship of Viana and Fritsch with the resumption of Premium I is recurrent. The two met with the president of Petrobras, Pedro Parente, on July 13, 2016 to discuss the the project. At the time, the idea was for Iranian companies to touch the venture, which eventually migrated to the Chinese.
The second meeting was held last Friday (15/12), when the Secretary of Oil and Gas of the Ministry of Mines and Energy, Márcio Félix, and the director of the National Petroleum Agency (ANP) again received representatives from Sinopec. Representatives of PetroChina Trading and China Development Bank also attended the meeting.
It was agreed that the Chinese will submit to the federal government until January 15 their demands for the resumption of the project. These demands will be taken to the Working Group that the National Energy Policy Council (CNPE) has set up on the refining and petrochemical segments.
The expectation in the government is that all the negotiation be closed until March, before the departure of Fernando Coelho Filho of the position, that will dispute the government of Pernambuco. The internal goal in the MME is to be able to resume the project with capacity for 240 thousand barrels per day in its first phase and works from the end of 2018.
The Premium I Refinery
Petrobras announced the cancellation of the Premium refinery projects in February 2015. The oil company recorded a loss of R $ 2.8 billion resulting from the cancellation of the units. The decision was made, according to the state-owned company, from the lack of economic attractiveness, given the expected growth rates of domestic and foreign markets for oil products, and also because the company did not get an economic partner for the deployment of refineries, a condition foreseen in the Business and Management Plan 2014-2018, which included the projects.
Sinopec, however, has shown interest in the project since its inception. In February 2013, two years before the cancellation of the project by Petrobras, it signed a letter of intent for joint studies with the Brazilian state company to implement the Maranhense refinery.
Where does the oil come from?
Part of the oil that will be used to produce petroleum products in the refinery may come from China’s own production in Brazil. Sinopec itself has a production of 54,600 barrels per day in the country, with 24,000 barrels per day, corresponding to its 30% stake in Petrogal production and another 30,000 barrels per day in partnership with Repsol. In both projects Sinopec is an indirect partner of the pre-salt production.
If we add Sinhochem’s share in the production of the Peregrino field, operated by Statoil in the Campos Basin post-salt, the volume of Chinese oil in the country increases to 83 thousand barrels per day.