By Lise Alves, Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – The petroleum sector trade balance in Brazil registered a deficit of R$6.059 billion during the period from January to April of 2014, according to the nation’s Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade (MDIC). The result, however, is better than that registered during the same period last year, when the difference between the import and export of petroleum and derivatives was negative by R$8.519 billion.
Without the petroleum-account deficit Brazil’s trade balance, currently negative by US$5.56 billion for the year, would be positive by US$493 million.
Foreign Trade Secretary at MDIC, Daniel Godinho, said during a press conference to announce the country’s trade balance results that crude petroleum exports was one of the highlights of the 4-month period, with an increase of 27 percent in April and 9.1 percent in the accumulated results from January to April. According to the official, these results “point to a reduction of the deficit of the petroleum account” during 2014.
Brazil’s trade balance registered in April a surplus of US$506 million in contrast to the deficit registered in April of 2013 of US$989 million. This is the best trade balance monthly result this year.
In January and February the trade balance registered a deficit and in March the surplus was of US$112 million. According to the MDIC the increase in Brazil’s trade balance surplus last month was mostly due to the decline of the deficit of the petroleum account as well as an increase in volumes of soybean exported.
Overall, Brazil’s exports totaled a little over US$19.72 billion in April, a growth of 5.2 percent in relation to April of 2013 and up by 6.3 percent in relation to March of 2014. Imports on the other hand registered a total of US$19.21 billion, down by 2.2 percent in relation to the same month last year, but a growth of 4.2 percent in relation to March of 2014.
Godinho pointed out that the results show a tendency of growth of Brazilian exports to the United States, with an increase of 44.5 percent in sales to the North American country in April and an increase by 17.4 percent during the first four months of the year. “Brazilian sales to the United States are growing more this year than those to China,” Godinho stated. “Brazil is accompanying the U.S. economic growth,” he added.
According to the Agencia Nacional de Petroleo – ANP (National Petroleum Agency) in the next ten years more than R$30 billion will be invested in Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) in the petroleum and gas areas in Brazil. This is a significant increase from the volume invested in the past sixteen years by the government (R$8.4 billion).
ANP says the investments will go to oilfields that are already producing and to those expected to produce in the future, according to the agency’s Assessment Plan. Much of the investment is expected to be channeled to pre-salt oil production areas, located in the Santos and Campos basins. In March, Petrobras, Brazil’s state-controlled oil giant, registered a monthly record of 395 thousand barrels per day (bpd) in the pre-salt regions, growth of 2.4 percent from the previous record set in February of 2014, of 385 thousand bpd.
Earlier this week Petrobras also announced that it will release 8,298 employees – or 12.4 percent of its staff – as part of a voluntary redundancy program. The initiative will save at least R$13 billion by 2018, the state-controlled oil firm said in a statement.