Petrobras, Brazil's state controlled oil and gas group, yesterday sought to put its sixty two percent drop in earnings in the first quarter of 2002 in an international perspective as its competitors also suffered declines ranging from forty two percent to more than one hundred per cent. “Our results are in line with world trends,” said Joao Nogueira Batista, chief financial officer. Profits fell to R$866m (US$373m) between January and March this year, that compares with R$2.3bn during the same period last year. This was the company's worst quarterly result since 1999. The margin on earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation was also slashed by half. Petrobras blamed a drop in oil prices and its derivatives, including naphtha. “There has been a very significant pressure on margins during the period,” Mr Batista said. Net sales also registered a fell seventeen percent fall to R$11.23bn. The performance of Petrobras is in the similar range as the ones of BP Amoco, Amerada Hess, ExxonMobil and ChevronTexaco. Only Shell fared better, while Conoco and Phillips registered the worst performances, according to Petrobras figures. No data were presented for other oil companies that operate in the region such Repsol YPF or Venezuela's PDVSA. Oil output rose by 10.6 per cent to 1.53m barrels per day on average, while imports fell by more than half compared with last year. “Petrobras should become a net oil exporter within a few years,” he said. Petrobras confirmed its intention to increase its refinery capacity outside of Brazil and its plans for an acquisition in the Gulf of Mexico, although no time frame was given for the project. Mr Batista spoke from New York as Petrobras is due to file for an eight billion dollar global registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission in the coming days. This would secure the company's international funding for a couple of years. “The company cannot remain dependent . . . on market volatility. The global registry will improve market access and allow for a completion in a matter of a few working days,” he said. The Brazilian oil company recently had to cancel a three hundred million dollar debt issue of fifteen year bonds due to a deteriorating financial market conditions related to WorldCom and domestic concern over the electoral outlook. Petrobras's earnings adversely affected the Sao Paulo stock exchange negatively yesterday. Its preferred shares were down 2.6 per cent in early afternoon. Ordinary shares were also down 1.9 per cent as the Bovespa index fell 0.6 per cent. Visit to
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