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Rio de Janeiro — Petrobras on Monday said it has reached a compromise settlement with Brazil's antitrust regulator, Cade, to sell fractions of its natural gas transportation and distribution assets.

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The agreement will see the country's state-owned oil company relinquish a 51% stake in Transportadora Brasileira Gasoduto Bolivia-Brasil or TBG -- the midstream company that imports a significant portion of Brazil's gas supply from Bolivia.

Petrobras also said it would relinquish a 10% stake in Nova Transportadora do Sudeste, a midstream entity with over 2,000 km of pipeline connecting the states of Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais and Sao Paulo, as well as a 10% stake in Transportadora Associada de Gas, which owns a separate network of pipelines totaling over 6,500 km in length.

The agreement could also see Petrobras sell off a controlling ownership stake in Gaspetro, the holding company for Brazil's state-level gas distributors. Alternatively, Petrobras could relinquish its separately owned stakes in one or more of Brazil's state-level gas distribution companies, it said.

"Petrobras is firmly committed to exiting the natural gas distribution business," Petrobras President and CEO Roberto Castello Branco said in press released issued late Monday. "Our team is working intensively to conclude negotiations in the shortest time possible."

A move by Petrobras to relinquish partial ownership in Brazil's midstream and downstream gas markets comes as the country's new presidential administration has been moving decisively toward an opening in the sector.

In late June, Brazil 's National Energy Policy Council, or CNPE, approved regulations aimed at opening the country's natural gas market, including ending monopolies in transportation and distribution networks.

The New Gas Market program, which has received strong support from the Bolsonaro administration, is expected to dramatically reduce energy costs and stimulate economic development in Brazil.

-- Jeff Fick, newsdesk@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Gail Roberts, newsdesk@spglobal.com

S&P Global Platts Global Energy Awards Nomination deadline: September 9, 2019

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