Illustration; Source: Petrobras

Stakes in Shell’s three blocks enable Petrobras’ return to African hydrocarbon exploration scene

Brazilian state-owned oil and gas giant Petrobras has come back to Africa’s oil and gas exploration playground, thanks to the acquisition of interests in three Shell-operated exploration blocks located off the coast of São Tomé and Príncipe.

Illustration; Source: Petrobras

This marks Petrobras’ resumption of exploration activities in Africa, following years of absence after the Brazilian behemoth exited Nigeria due to the sale of its interests in three offshore fields: Egina, Akpo, and Agbami. The company completed the sale of its 50% stake in Petrobras Oil & Gas to an Africa Oil Corp. unit for $1.53 billion at the start of 2020, closing its African chapter.

However, the conclusion of the acquisition of stakes in the three exploration blocks – 10, 11, and 13 – in São Tomé and Príncipe allows Petrobras to re-open the African chapter. To this end, the firm has signed amendments to the production sharing contracts (PSCs) and joint operating agreements, enabling it to become a part of the consortia for these blocks.

“The operation marks the resumption of exploratory operations on the African continent, with the aim of diversifying the portfolio, and is in line with the company’s long-term strategy, aimed at restoring oil and gas reserves by exploring new frontiers and working in partnership,” highlighted Petrobras.

This acquisition is part of the scope of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that CEOs of Petrobras and Shell, Jean-Paul Prates and Wael Sawan, inked in March 2023 to identify business opportunities in the upstream arena. Since the Brazilian heavyweight’s board of directors approved operations in São Tomé and Príncipe in December 2023, the firm got its hands on a 45% stake in interest in blocks 10 and 13 and a 25% interest in block 11.

While all three blocks are operated by Shell, consortia composition differs from block to block. In line with this, Block 10 partners are Shell (operator, 40%), Petrobras (45%), and ANP-STP (15%); Block 11 owners are Shell (operator, 40%), Petrobras (25%), Galp (20%), and ANP-STP (15%); and Block 13 participants are Shell (operator, 40%), Petrobras (45%), and ANP-STP (15%).

The acquisition of the blocks in São Tomé and Príncipe is aligned with the Brazilian energy giant’s 2024-2028 strategic plan, which puts oil and natural gas at the forefront of further investments, positioning them to receive the biggest slice of the planned $102 billion investment pie.

Petrobras sees oil and gas as drivers of growth, which will propel and fund the energy transition to greener sources of supply. The Brazilian player reached total oil and natural gas production of 2.78 MMboed in 2023, 3.7% higher than the production recorded in 2022.