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Petrobras Punishes Brazil's Trade Balance

08/09/2013 - 08h49

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TATIANA FREITAS
FROM SÃO PAULO

Lower production, higher consumption and a delay in the import registration last year by Petrobras pushed the trade balance of oil and derivatives to the largest deficit in history.

From January to July, the shortfall on the oil account reached US$15.4 billion - four times more than in the same period, in 2012-. If trends continue, oil will bring the Brazilian trade to the worst level in more than a decade.

The reason: less oil left to export. For the year, revenue from shipments of crude oil fell 49%.

The drop in Brazilian production, caused by scheduled shutdowns at Petrobras platforms, explains partially the result.

The volume of barrels produced in the country fell 6% in the first half.

With an increase in gasoline and diesel consumption -fueled by the growth in the number of vehicles and their low prices- Petrobras refineries are operating at full capacity to increase oil supply. For this reason, the state company needs more oil in the country.

The increase in oil processing also aims to reduce the import costs of derivatives that last year brought in losses to Petrobras.

As fuel prices at refineries in the country are, for the most part, lower than abroad, the company loses money by importing diesel or gasoline to sell here.

Despite efforts, the imports of fuels and lubricants rose 20% until July.

The need for fuel imports will only decrease in five years when the new refineries being built by Petrobras begin operation.

Translated by SIMONE PALMA

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