Brazil’s state energy giant Petrobras has cut its five-year investment plan by 27 percent to $55 billion, driven by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Reuters reported, citing a regulatory filing, that the company will focus its efforts on developing deepwater oilfields in the pre-salt zone that is estimated to contain billions of untapped barrels of oil. The pre-salt fields are Brazil’s main point of attraction for foreign energy firms, too.

Of the $55 billion Petrobras plans to spend over the next five years, most will go towards exploration and production. Still, at $46 billion, the sum to be allocated for exploration and production until 2025 is down from $64 billion planned a year ago.

The company also said it will only develop fields where it could break even at international oil prices of $35 per barrel.

As a result of the spending revision, Petrobras will produce less oil and gas next year, the company said, aiming for a daily average of 2.75 million barrels of oil equivalent. This is down from 2.84 million bpd this year. Related: EIA Sees WTI Crude Averaging $44 In 2021

However, going forward, production will increase, reaching 3.3 million barrels of oil equivalent in 2024. The boost will come from the pre-salt zone, which will also drive the company’s output this year. Petrobras said at the release of its third-quarter results in September that it had originally expected an output of 2.7 million bpd of oil equivalent for this year.

Crude oil production from the pre-salt fields marked a quarterly increase of 8.1 percent to 1.651 million bpd in the third quarter of this year, mainly due to higher operational efficiency of the platforms in the Búzios field and the ramp-up of production platforms in the Tupi and Atapu oilfields. Compared to the third quarter of 2019, Petrobras’ crude oil output in the pre-salt area jumped by 20.8 percent.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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