Brazil's federal government has reportedly given approval for state-owned energy giant Petrobras (NYSE: PBR) to seek international partners to accelerate the construction of four local refineries.
It comes almost three weeks after Petrobras slashed funding for new refineries by 27.7% to US$65.5bn in the company's new five-year business plan.
According to A&P director Arthur Pimentel, Sinopec would be an ideal investor due its technological expertise, competitive costs and large financing capacity.
"China has been following events in Brazil and has the expertise and financial means to be involved in new refineries," Pimentel told BNamericas.
"Petrobras' focus has been pre-salt but production in those fields won't start until 2020. That doesn't give the company time to prevent demand for imports from spiraling."
Sinopec could not be reached for comment on Tuesday (Jul 3).
Last week Petrobras CEO Maria das Graças Foster revealed the Comperj petrochemical complex in Rio de Janeiro state and two refineries in Brazil's northeast had been postponed indefinitely.
The Abreu e Lima refinery in Pernambuco state was also pushed back a year with the first unit not scheduled to begin operating until November 2014.
Local media reported on Tuesday the federal government had given permission to allow foreign investors a stake of up to 49% in Petrobras refineries.
The company says it will be forced to import 40% of Brazil's oil derivatives by 2020 if the refineries are not completed in time.
According to Centro Brasileiro de Infraestrutura (CBIE), Petrobras spent US$958mn on foreign oil shipments in the first quarter, a 7.72% increase on the same period last year.
A Petrobras spokesperson declined to comment when contacted by BNamericas.
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(Originally published July 3, 2012, by Business News Americas.)