July 10, 2019
With the increase in pre-salt production, the oil companies are preparing to raise their exports. The National Petroleum Agency (ANP) estimates that shipments of crude oil abroad can more than triple by 2030. In this scenario, companies in the industry move in search of logistics options to facilitate the flow of production and , thus positioning itself strategically in a global market increasingly disputed by the oil companies around the world.
Unlike the multinationals that produce in the country, Petrobras no longer has other refineries abroad and will have an additional challenge in the search of markets for its oil. In this sense, the state-owned company opened a crude oil tank in Qingdao Port, China, in June, with a capacity of 2 million barrels. With the new infrastructure, rented from third parties, the company will be able to reduce delivery times, improving its position in an essential market. China consumes 75% of the 600,000 barrels / day Petrobras exports.
In Brazil, Petrobras has also been looking for new logistics bases, in addition to its own terminals. In March, it signed a contract with Açu Petróleo, a joint venture between Prumo Logística and Germany’s Oiltanking, for transhipment operations at Açu Port, in São João da Barra, in the north of the state of Rio de Janeiro. Açu Petroleo sees the increase in exports as an opportunity and has plans to build a terminal for tanking and treatment of crude oil in the port.
Another company that has been moving is the Norwegian Equinor, which also signed a contract with Açu Petróleo this year to “ship to ship” (oil transfer between tankers moored at the Açu terminal). Shell and Portugal’s Galp also have Açu type contracts.
For the professor of the Energy Economics Group of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Edmar Almeida, export logistics do not require large investments in infrastructure, since the transshipment is usually done in ships, without the need to build infrastructure on land. He says, however, that structural changes in the market will require a major commercial effort.
“The geopolitics of oil is shifting from a geopolitics of supply, from the dispute over access to reserves, to what may in the future become the geopolitics of demand, a dispute over market access. “ Since the revolution of unconventional gas in the United States, everyone is looking to export to the same place: Asia, “he says.
He cites the move by Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest producer, which has invested in refineries in Asia as a way of securing a captive market for its offering. “In this heated environment, Petrobras can not depend on a few clients,” he says.
For professor at UFRJ and former director of ANP, Hélder Queiroz, there are still other uncertainties about the behavior of demand in the future. “We still do not know at what pace the oil substitution will take place, given the electrification of the car fleet in the world, nor in what scenario of prices that growth of Brazilian production will take place, if confirmed,” he says.
According to ANP, Brazil has the potential to export between 4 million and 5 million barrels per day of oil by 2030, equivalent to 53% to 66% of the national production expected. The average of exports surpassed for the first time, in 2018, the level of 1 million barrels per day and maintained its trajectory. In 2019, the average exports accumulate, up to May, a 33% increase in the annual comparison, to 1.4 million barrels / day.
With this, Brazil will increasingly position itself as one of the world’s leading exporters. The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that the country will, after the United States, be primarily responsible for supporting the increase in world demand by 2024, helping to compensate for the decline of Iran and Venezuela.
The increase in Brazilian exports will be accompanied by a greater participation of large global oil companies in the domestic market. The tendency is for the multinationals’ strategy of exporting their products in Brazil to become more accentuated, since the domestic market cannot absorb all the production expected in the coming years.
The FGV Energia researcher, Fernanda Delgado, defends the need for Brazil not to expose itself to an export logic based only on crude oil. Otherwise, according to her, there will be an imbalance of the Brazilian trade balance. “The implications of this scenario would be the imbalance of the country’s entry and exit of foreign exchange, since we would become major exporters of crude oil and derivatives importers. Ideally, we would become suppliers of higher added value products, such as petrochemicals and derivatives “he argues.