Petrobras ‘proactively’ engaging with Federal auditor about tolling contract with Unigel

Jonathan Lopez

02-Apr-2024

SAO PAULO (ICIS)–Petrobras continues to “clarify in a timely manner” all the information requested by the Federal auditor regarding its tolling contract with Unigel, a spokesperson for the Brazilian energy major said to ICIS on Tuesday.

In December, Petrobras signed a tolling agreement for two of Unigel’s fertilizers plants after high natural gas prices and low selling prices had been putting pressure on the plant’s profitability.

Earlier this week, Brazilian daily O Globo reported that the Federal Audit Court (TCU in its Portuguese acronym) has identified possible fraud in the tolling agreement. As a state-owned company, Petrobras is audited by the TCU.

The reports this week came just a month after Petrobras said it had not found any irregularities in the contract after having carried out an internal investigation.

“Petrobras has acted proactively, having even informed the TCU of all the bases of the tolling contract with Unigel before its activation, even without any demand from the audit court,” said Petrobras’ spokesperson on Tuesday.

“The company continues to clarify all information requested by the TCU in a timely manner, maintaining the level of confidentiality appropriate to the process. Finally, we emphasize that there has not been any type of conviction by the TCU.”

Unigel had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing.

The fertilizers plants included in the tolling agreement are in Camacari, Bahia state, and Laranjeiras, Sergipe state. They were leased by Petrobras to Unigel in 2019.

Despite the tolling agreement signed in December, Unigel said in March it was halting production at the plants as natural gas prices, the main feedstock, remained high.

Camacari can produce 475,000 tonnes/year of ammonia and 475,000 tonnes/year of urea; Laranjeiras can produce 650,000 tonnes/year of urea, 450,000 tonnes/year of ammonia, and 320,000 tonnes/year of ammonium sulphate (AS).

Unigel has been under intense financial strain. Earlier on Tuesday, the company said it was postponing the publication of its fourth quarter and 2023 financial results, a provision envisaged under Brazil’s financial regulation, while it works out a debt restructuring with its creditors.

Front page picture: Laranjeiras fertilizers production facilities 
Source: Unigel

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