| SAO PAULO
SAO PAULO Dec 16 Engie SA could
enter Brazil's natural gas industry through acquisitions as
state-controlled Petróleo Brasileiro SA retreats, the French
utility's top executive in the country told Reuters.
Paris-based Engie has held talks with Petrobras, as the
Brazilian state oil giant is known, and is waiting for terms and
conditions of potential asset sales in the sector, Mauricio
Bähr, Engie's senior country officer in Brazil, said late on
Bähr added that Engie planned to expand quickly into
services for decentralized power generation.
"We are indeed interested in assets that might be put up for
sale," he said. "Talking about Petrobras, for example, we are
interested in entering natural gas, we are looking at gas
Engie is Brazil's No. 2 power generator, with total capacity
of about 10.2 gigawatts. The company has a 40 percent stake in
Jirau, which is now fully operational after the last of its 50
turbines started working two weeks ago. Jirau was inaugurated on
The project is considered key to securing the power supply
in industrial-rich southeastern Brazil, to where its energy is
sent through a 2,400 km transmission line.
Engie is not looking to take on a project as ambitious as
Jirau in the near-term. The company is in a legal battle to
avoid 2 billion reais ($597 million) in fines from Brazil's
electricity regulator Aneel for delays in construction of the
The French utility believes it had no control over the
causes of the delays - which included a revolt by some workers
who set fire to workers' dorms.
"Contracts such as the one for Jirau have to be changed in
the future, so new investments can happen. Safety should not be
responsibility of the investor, but of the state," Bähr said.
Petrobras sold a large part of gas infrastructure assets to
Brookfield Asset Management Inc in September. The
company wants to shed $19.1 billion more in assets through 2018,
including gas-fired power plants, terminals and
"I believe Petrobras will conduct a reorganization of these
assets before selling them," Bähr said.
Engie is also looking at expanding into services for
companies that install solar panels to generate their own
energy. It recently won a contract from Centrais Elétricas de
Santa Catarina SA to install 1,000 panels mainly for
factories and services firms in the Santa Catarina state.
($1 = 3.3524 reais)
(Reporting by Marcelo Teixeira; Editing by Guillermo
Parra-Bernal and Mark Potter)