Search

 

Cablegate: Brazil Entrepreneur Launches Challenger to Oil Giant

VZCZCXRO4944
RR RUEHRG
DE RUEHRI #0159/01 1791220
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 271220Z JUN 08
FM AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4517
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 0858
RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO 5161
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 3433
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC
RHEBAAA/USDOE WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 RIO DE JANEIRO 000159

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

STATE FOR WHA/BSC, WHA/EPSC AND GREG MANUEL
EB/ESC BRIAN DUGGAN
USDOC FOR 4332/ITA/MAC/WH/OLAC/JANDERSEN/ADRISCOLL/MWAR D
USDOE FOR CAROLYN GAY AND RHEA DAVIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ENRG EPET EIND EINV BR
SUBJECT: BRAZIL ENTREPRENEUR LAUNCHES CHALLENGER TO OIL GIANT
PETROBRAS

REF: A) RIO DE JANEIRO 138, B) RIO DE JANEIRO 91, C) RIO DE JANEIRO
35, D) 07 SAO PAULO 0953, E) 07 Sao Paulo 899

Sensitive but unclassified, please protect accordingly.

1. (U) Summary. A Brazilian oil company that has yet to drill a
single well raised US$4.16 billion in an initial stock offering in
mid-June, Brazil's largest public offering to date. The huge
success of the IPO for OGX Petroleo e Gas Participoes SA reflects a
tide of optimism generated by the recent, potentially huge discovery
of pre-salt oil reserves in Brazil's Santos Basin. Domestic oil
giant Petrobras views OGX's success as a direct threat. Further
friction between the two companies is likely as they compete for
exploration opportunities and production resources. End Summary.

OGX ENTERS THE OIL GAME, TARGETS PETROBRAS

2. (U) Rio de Janeiro-based oil company OGX was created less than a
year ago, but it is already creating quite a buzz in the industry
for its bold moves in challenging Brazilian oil giant Petrobras for
a share of the market. OGX is run by 51-year old Brazilian
entrepreneur Eike Batista. Though Batista has little knowledge of
the oil business, he is an incredibly successful entrepreneur and
investors are betting that he will find success in the oil game as
well. In mid-June, OGX raised US$4.16 billion in an initial public
offering (IPO), Brazil's largest IPO to date (REF E).

3. (U) In putting together his OGX team last year, Batista targeted
the "best of the best" and spared no expense. He hired Francisco
Gros, former Petrobras President under the Cardoso administration,
to be CEO. He lured more key executives away from their positions
at Petrobras in exchange for equity in Batista's companies, making
them instant millionaires.

4. (U) In October 2007, just one month before Brazil's "Ninth Bid
Round" lease sale for new offshore exploration blocks, OGX delivered
an especially damaging blow to Petrobras' interests. Petrobras'
Manager for Exploration and Production Paulo Mendonca and Contracts
Manager Luis Reis defected to OGX, bringing with them intimate
knowledge of Petrobras' bidding strategy in the upcoming auction
such as which blocks Petrobras wanted and how much it was willing to
bid.

5. (U) OGX performed remarkably at the Bid Round, attracting
attention for routinely out-bidding Petrobras. It paid around
US$800 million for exploration rights in high-potential blocks with
estimated reserves of 4.8 billion barrels. For the most part, OGX's
blocks are located in shallow offshore locations that already have
been produced and returned to the government. However, these blocks
may prove valuable given the price of oil and industry speculation
that decent reserves remain in them. Indeed, these were blocks that
Petrobras had already identified for itself using a wealth of
geological data research. OGX plans to start drilling wells by the
end of 2008 and hopes to announce oil discoveries as soon as 2009
with some production activity about two years later, announced
company executives in late-June.

6. (U) OGX also has its eyes on Brazil's newly discovered pre-salt
reserves, as does the rest of the industry (REFS A and B). It was
prepared to bid strongly on pre-salt blocks in the Ninth Bid Round,
but those blocks were withdrawn by the government prior to the
auction (REF C). In recent press statements, company executives
have said that they have already earmarked US $1.1 billion to
acquire new pre-salt exploration prospects if they are offered later
this year.

EIKE BATISTA'S PURSUIT OF WEALTH

7. (U) OGX's success in entering the domestic oil market is due, in
large part, to the outstanding business record of owner Eike
Batista. He is currently the richest man in Brazil with investments
in mining, power, oil, real estate, logistics, entertainment and
forestry valued at roughly US$17 billion. Aside from his recent
success with the OGX IPO, Batista netted US$3.5 billion in April
with the sale of mines to Anglo American -- his third ten-figure
payoff in two years from companies he built. He stands to gain at
least US$1 billion more in a planned offering of his logistics
business, LLX Logistica SA. He sees tremendous opportunity in
Brazil's oil sector. In a January 2008 press interview, Batista
boldly claimed that he wanted to surpass Bill Gates in wealth within
five years.


RIO DE JAN 00000159 002 OF 002


8. (U) Batista's road to wealth has been remarkable. In 2001, he
lost almost his entire fortune, acquired through lucrative gold
mining ventures in Brazil, when he unsuccessfully gambled on mining
interests in Europe and Russia. In one case, a Greek court annulled
his mining permits which resulted in a US$330 million loss. Over
the following six years, Batista refocused on South America and
quickly found success in the iron ore industry. By 2007, Fortune
Magazine valued him at US$6.6 billion and ranked him number 142 on
its List of World Billionaires. In the past year, he has nearly
tripled his wealth.

COMMENT

9. (SBU) OGX's dramatic entry into the Brazilian oil industry is
significant. With the financial backing of Batista, OGX has built a
formidable team. U.S. oil company contacts have privately shared
how they are reveling in Petrobras' frustration with having to deal
with real competition from a domestic company for the first time.
Worth watching is Petrobras' further reaction as OGX gears up to
drill wells. Though OGX can hire top people and win exploration
blocks with money alone, it will need partners to drill for and
produce oil. We are hearing that Petrobras is strongly discouraging
(i.e. threatening to cut them off from Petrobras projects) its own
partners from working with OGX. It remains to be seen if OGX can
successfully convince potential partners to stand up to Petrobras.

10. (U) This message was cleared/coordinated with Embassy Brasilia.

MARTINEZ

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC