Petrobras’ Performance 4Q20


Dear Shareholders,

I am very happy to present the report on Petrobras financial performance in 2020, a superb performance in a very challenging environment.

Amidst a severe global recession and the effects of a major global shock to the oil industry, we promised to engineer a J-shaped recovery. The goal was to emerge better than before.

We delivered on our promises.

Costs were reduced and are set to remain on a downward path, productivity is growing, the company is laser focused on investing in world-class assets and has a large pipeline of non-core assets to divest.

We are very proud of our team for the fast and efficient response to the oil crisis. Our employees worked relentlessly to win, corporate people at their homes and operations people at the refineries, plants and oil and gas platforms in the sea.

The execution of the strategy launched in January 2019 was accelerated as well as digital transformation to support the efforts to lower costs and to boost efficiency and operational safety. The work of multidisciplinary agile teams was instrumental to leverage our key resources and to enhance resiliency.

Oil and oil & gas production reached all-time highs at 2.28 MMbpd and 2.84 MMboed, respectively, while most of our global competitors showed output reduction. A major part of our production – about 66% – came from the pre salt fields at an average lifting cost of US$2.5 per boe.  This means also higher oil quality sold at a premium on the Brent price as well as less greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions.

Total average lifting cost, at US$ 5.2 per boe in 2020, dropped 42.2% relatively to the 2015-2019 average of US$9.0 per boe.

Petrobras oil and fuel oil exports also reached historical records. Crude oil sales increased 33% and our Tupi and Buzios brand names were consolidated with Asian clients.

Our sales and marketing team is developing initiatives to diversify by geographies and clients. In 2020 they were able to add 14 new clients to the clientele.

Exports of fuel oil climbed 45,9%, primarily due to the successful exploration of low sulphur grade to the Singaporean market, a global shipping hub.

New and successful inroads were made in the sales of naphta, propane, ethane and coke.

Whereas oil prices plunged 35%, our operational cashflow (CFFO) went up 13% and free cash flow (FCF) 20%.

CFFO reached US$ 28.9 billion, the highest of the last 10 years, even comparing with a period of oil prices around US$ 100 per bbl, more than double of last year’s average price of US$42/bbl.  When compared to major oil companies, Petrobras was the only one to show an increase in a very challenging environment.

FCF of US$22.1 billion (US$ 24.1 billion if divestments are included) was an all-time high figure for our company. It was also the highest among major oil companies, and almost eight times the average number for the group, at US$2.8 billion.

Consistently with the focus on meritocracy and value creation, we started the implementation of EVA® as a management system in 2019.

The strength of cashflow generation and a more efficient capital allocation were the main factors underlying the EVA® increase of US$2.3 billion in relation to 2019.

The strong cashflow allowed us to continue to deleverage the balance sheet. Total debt was reduced by US$11.6 billion, to US$ 75.5 billion, from US$87.1 billion as of December 31, 2019, another great achievement.

Net debt of US$63.2 billion at the end of 2020 dropped US$15.7 billion against the position of December 31, 2019.

Cash holdings of US$ 12.4 billion are still greater than optimal. They should be reduced over time to improve the efficiency of capital allocation as attractive opportunities for debt pre-payment arise.

Debt reduction and lower costs of debt contributed to a substantial decline in interest burden. For instance, the interest paid to barrel of oil produced ratio was US$3.80 in 2020 against US$7.80 in 2015 – a 51% drop – and the average of US$7.70 for 2015-2019.

Total interest payment of US$3.2 billion in 2020, represents a sea change when compared to large payments of over US$7.0 billion per year in the recent past, equivalent to more than the CAPEX required to build an offshore oil production system with capacity of 150-180,000 bpd.

Lower debt and interest payments are key to improve risk perception and to free funds to be invested in world-class assets, particularly in a capital- intensive business such as oil.
Petrobras´ total shareholders return have been very poor over the last few years. Given the strong cash flow performance and continued debt reduction, we are proposing to the Board of Directors a dividend distribution of R$ 10.3 billion – R$0,787446 per common and preferred shares –still relatively modest but more than twice the mandatory for the 2020 calendar year. Dividends are scheduled to be paid on April 29.

Manageable operating expenses fell to US$16.9 billion against US$21.8 billion in 2019 and general and administrative expenses went down by US1.0 billion, to US$1.1 billion against US$2.1 billion.

Lifting costs declined 33% on year-on-year basis to US$5.2 from US$7.8/boe. 63 oil platforms were mothballed given low productivity and high operational costs.

We managed to cut costs with air, storage, maritime and port operations. At the same time, the ship-to-ship operations performed by our wholly owned subsidiary Transpetro increased by 66% relative to 2019 and ship availability was raised to 99.2% in 2H20, against 90% in December, 2019. Transpetro sold 11 ships, most of which with 30 or more years, demanding much higher costs of maintenance.

The company is taking steps to optimize inventory management. The inventory was reduced, reaching the lowest level since 2011, and the inventory of oil declined 8 million barrels in a move to eliminate inefficiency and to reallocate capital to better uses.

By the same token, we put for sale some 50,000 tons of scrap and 550 real estate assets.

More than 11,000 employees of Petrobras and its subsidiaries enlisted for the various voluntary dismissal programs, out of which 6,100 left Petrobras in 2019 and 2020 and 5,000 as of 2021. Almost 1,500 managerial positions were eliminated, in-sourcing was adopted to save costs and use of digital transformation and automation cut the demand for outsourced services.

The health plan, previously a source of high costs and poor services, is being restructured to pursue efficiency gains, lower costs and much better services.

The pension fund (PETROS) of our employees had a deficit of more than R$30 billion due to mismanagement in the past. A professional management was hired and a new deficit coverage plan was approved and implemented in 2019. In January 2021 a defined contribution plan was approved by regulatory authorities. Therefore, PETROS is now much healthier than it was in the recent past.

Several administrative buildings were shutdown, totaling 14 out of the 23 occupied in early 2019. The number of offices abroad decreased to four from 18 in 2018. Simultaneously, the number of expatriates per office was reduced significantly.

The rationalization of the office space to reduce costs is being facilitated by headcount reduction and adoption of a hybrid regime of home office when we are confident to return to the office. New ways of working are needed to survive and thrive in a technology-driven world.

As in many companies in the world, the adoption of home office for corporate activities, made feasible by the digital revolution, contributed to mitigate the transmission of the coronavirus among our employees and to a significant productivity increase and cost savings.

For instance, travel costs were down by US$40 million in comparison to 2019. A large part of these savings is permanent in a post-COVID world.

Our corporate university was restructured to become leaner, with training programs aligned to the company´s strategic priorities. A program of succession of leaders has commenced, supported by the formation of a new generation of leaders and mentorship.

Expenditure with oil extraction declined US$2.0 billion to US$4.7 billion in 2020 from US$6.7 billion the year before. Refining costs were also reduced to US$1.1 billion from US$1.5 billion.

To address the goal of reducing working capital, we launched Mais Valor program in November last year. This program will benefit both suppliers – through bank financing at lower interest rates – and Petrobras – with longer terms to pay for the purchase of goods and services.

Since January 2019 we concluded 21 transactions and have other 13 signed, involving asset divestitures amounting to some US$17 billion of cash-in, being US$14.4 billion in that year. BR Distribuidora was the first case of privatization of a state-owned company through capital markets.

Divestment revenue was key to finance the acquisition of Búzios (transfer of rights surplus), the largest offshore oil field in the world, in November 2019.

Two fertilizer plants were leased to a chemical company under a long-term contract, our subsidiary ANSA was shut down and our two natural gas distribution companies in Uruguay had their operating licenses returned to the Uruguayan government allowing Petrobras to leave the business.

Currently, we still have more than 50 assets on sale at different stages in their processes of divestment. Five refineries, Gaspetro and several mature oil fields have reached the final stage for the signing of a sales and purchase agreement.

The divestment program aims to optimize our portfolio, allowing for the reallocation of resources from low-return to high-return assets, to reduce debt and to de-risk the company.

In the last couple of years Petrobras invested US$35 billion, the majority of it in the exploration and production of oil and natural gas in deep and ultradeep waters, our core business.

In 2020 P-70 came on stream for operation in the Atapu field and P-77 (Buzios) and P-67 (Tupi) concluded ramp-ups.

Over the last two years costs of well drilling and completion were reduced by 36%. We started to use new tools for inspection of subsea pipelines to make feasible to lower costs and increase oil output.

The basic project for a new generation of FPSOs was finalized. Thirteen new FPSOs will come on stream from this year to 2025, eight of them are already being built.

Several innovation projects are being developed aiming to minimize exploratory risk, to shorten dramatically the time period between discovery and first oil and to minimize costs of well drilling and completion, among others.

HISEP® is one of these projects in advanced stage. It allows the separation and reinjection of CO2 in the seabed, contributing to cut capex and opex costs and GHG emissions.

If successful, these projects will enhance the resiliency of our portfolio to very low prices of oil, to allow for the exploitation of new pre-salt fields with high CO2 concentration and to create a cleaner oil and natural gas operation.

The digital twins technology was successfully implemented in our refineries and a program is being executed to reach a significant increase in energy efficiency. Energy is a major component of the operational cost of refining and our goal is to reduce costs and GHG emissions.

Reflecting our client focus, a new type of gasoline with higher performance (RON 93) was launched. Production and sales of S10 low-sulphur diesel oil were boosted last year and we are waiting for government license to start the production and sales of renewable diesel.  

This product decreases greenhouse gas emissions by 70% relatively to regular diesel, 15% when compared to biodiesel and it is much more friendly to motors. It will be the first product of a new line of biofuels, which includes bio aviation kerosene.

To widen the menu of options for clients, the sales and marketing team is carrying out auctions for future delivery of fuels in some specific places.  

Safety of operations and our employees is one of our strategic priorities.

Total recordable injuries per million men hour continued on a downward trend, reaching 0.56 in 2020, establishing a new benchmark for the global oil industry. For the first time in many years, we had zero fatalities in our operations.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemics we adopted strict protocols to protect the health of our employees, adoption of home office for corporate personnel until June 30, 2021, team reduction in the operations, massive testing (520,000 tests up to February), quarantining, use of PPE´s and availability of 24/7 medical services including telemedicine and air ambulances.

Petrobras also helped to fight the effects of the pandemics on the Brazilian society through the donation of tests, medical and hygiene materials, fuel for ambulances and medical vehicles, food for low income families and computing capacity to support research efforts.

Our social agenda acquired a focus on early childhood education, an investment with high expected social return. Currently, our programs are assisting about 25,000 children.

In January this year we took the first step of a new program, Digital Education for Prosperity, with a grant of 250 laptops to public schools in a low income community. The plan, in a partnership with a non-government organization and two large companies, has a wider scope, encompassing the grant of up to 15,000 computers with Internet access and training centers for teachers of elementary public schools and public high school students in low-income communities.

Digital transformation has been accelerated, supported by training, cultural transformation and a significant enhancement in infrastructure.

High power computing capacity is being raised to 60 Pflops in 2021 from only 3 Pflops in 2018, which is critical to the solving of more complex algorithms, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Simultaneously, we are implementing the SAP S/4 Hana to simplify, digitalize and integrate process to make productivity gains feasible across the company.

Two excellence centers were created, one for agile excellence and the other for robotization and process digitalization. Alongside the two centers, we developed an Ecosystem for Innovation Corporate Lab to foster innovation through hackathons, design thinking, design sprint, lean startup. To stimulate entrepreneurship we created a program of internal startups, called “Santo de Casa faz milagres”.

Our research center, CENPES, the largest in Latin America, was revamped to become much more integrated with the company strategic goals through the optimization of the R&D project portfolio, partnership with start-up companies and the use of commercial readiness and other instruments.

Energy transition is something to be taken seriously. We strongly believe that, as the largest Latin American oil company, one of our duties is to help in a responsible process of transition. Oil and natural gas are still the backbone of modern economy and they will continue to be relevant for many years, although the global demand tends to grow at a slower and declining pace over time.

Petrobras launched ten commitments to sustainability aiming to minimize GHG emissions, to increase carbon capture and storage and water reutilization, while pursuing innovations to deal with scope 3 emissions and the research of new sources of energy.

The company managed to diminish total GHG emissions for the sixth consecutive year, totaling 56 million tCO2e, a reduction of 6% when compared to 2019, and compatible with our goal of reducing this total by 25% by 2030, compared to 2015. The E&P carbon intensity was 15.8 kgCO2e / boe, on track to reaching our medium-term target of 15 kgCO2e / boe in 2025.

Carbon intensity of the refining business was 40.2 kgCO2e / CWT, a 3.6% reduction when compared to 2019. It is still too high. We are working hard to converge to 30 kgCO2e/CWT until 2030.

The ultimate sources of economic development are companies. Once they create shareholder value, they have the resources to finance investment, to pay higher wages, to create jobs along the value chain, to invest in social projects and to protect the nature against climate change and to pay taxes.

Petrobras is the largest taxpayer in Brazil. In face of low oil prices and demand contraction we paid R$129 billion in 2020 to the government, totaling R$375 billion in the last couple of years.

Our goal is to become the best oil and gas company in the world by value creation with respect to people and the environment, focus on safety, and continuing to be a reliable supplier of high-quality products to our customers.

I would like to express our solidarity to those who suffered the terrible pain caused by the pandemics and to praise medical professionals and scientists who have been real heroes in the battle for the preservation of human lives.

My acknowledgement to our Board of Directors for its important role and continuous support to strategy execution in this journey.

Last but not least, people are the most valuable asset of Petrobras. Our executives and employees had no doubt to go for the extra mile in the dark hours of a deep recession to keep the ship running safely through rough waters.

Thank you!

Roberto Castello Branco
Chief Executive Officer

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