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Brazil's state-run energy giant Petroleo Brasileiro S.A., or Petrobras (PBR - Analyst Report) recently launched an auction to sell off its stakes in Nigerian oil fields, according to people familiar with the situation. This sale is expected to fetch up to $5 billion for Petrobras.

The divestiture will help Petrobras to invest in exploration and production activities and to finance its 5-year, $236.7-billion capital spending plan. The company will also be able to focus more on exploration activities in a vast deep sea region, off the coast of Brazil known as the subsalt. It is assumed to hold dozens of billions of barrels of high quality oil.

Petrobras will sell its 8% interest in the Agbami blocks, offshore Nigeria. This field is operated by the U.S. energy major Chevron Corporation (CVX - Analyst Report). Output from the same can reach 250,000 barrels per day (bpd) and is expected to hold reserves of 900 million barrels.

Petrobras will sell another 20% stake in the Akpo project which is operated by France’s Total SA (TOT - Analyst Report). This project has an output of 175,000 bpd of light condensate oil and 9 million cubic meters of gas. It has proved reserves of 620 million barrels of condensate and more than 28 billion cubic meters of gas.

Management has set a year-end 2013 target of asset sales worth $9.9 billion. The achievement of this goal is likely to liberate cash for Petrobras, reduce its debt, prevent sale of new shares and keep its investment-grade ratings intact.

Petrobras currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Another energy stock, Range Resources Corp. (RRC - Analyst Report) with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), is worth considering now and is expected to perform impressively over the next few months.
 

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