Brazil’s oil and gas sector has shown resilience and adaptability in its response to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to speakers taking part in the opening ceremony of the digital version of the country’s Rio Oil & Gas industry event.

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“This year has been especially challenging, but we have maintained operations and guaranteed the necessary supply. We have show all concerned that we will not fall short,” said Clarissa Lins, president of the event's organiser, the Brazilian Petroleum Institute (IBP).

Brazilian oil production has remained stable in recent months, despite high rates of Covid-19 infection in the country, helped by the adoption of strict protocols governing offshore workers.

In Monday's opening ceremony for the three-day digital event, interim director general of the country’s National Petroleum Agency (ANP) regulator, Rafael Moura, praised the resilience shown by the sector but also acknowledged the need to make the sector more competitive in response to the new challenges.

“It is important to focus strongly on sustainability and efficiency. This is the only way forward for the oil and gas industry,” he said.

Brazil’s Mines & Energy Minister Bento Alberquerque said the country is already on the road to make the oil and gas sector more attractive, while also acknowledging that more must be done to consolidate the opening of the downstream sector.

In the view of Cristina Pinho, executive director of IBP, the Covid-19 pandemic is spurring the industry with a “leap forward” in terms of innovation, as reflected in the agenda of the digital congress and exhibition.

"This is the most innovative edition ever held in the history of the IBP, she said.

The IBP digital platform provides interactivity and networking, with sessions and technical works, immersive rooms, virtual storefronts and an “On Demand” channel.

The programme will feature an afternoon dedicated to start-up ventures, the “Dialogues of Rio Oil & Gas” debates and interviews with chief executives of key global players in “CEO Talks.”

The Rio Oil & Gas platform will function as a digital hub, including videos

“This is a unique opportunity to expand expertise, increase networking and do business via home office,” said Pinho, who is also event chairwoman.

The Rio Oil & Gas event also started in the same week that state-controlled oil giant Petrobras was outlining plans to retrench its investments in the most profitable pre-salt sector, while pushing forward with a major divestment programme covering onshore, shallow-water and numerous mid-water assets, as well as the from its downstream and midstream portfolios.

Petrobras said 80% of its own production will come from the highly productive ultra-deepwater pre-salt assets by 2025.

Although divestments could cause its own production to dip by mid-decade, these pre-salt assets are productive enough to resume an upward curve in its output after mid-decade, according to Carlos Alberto Oliveira, Petrobras director for exploration and production.

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The Petrobras business plan announced this week showed that future investments would only be approved if they can make a profit at a Brent oil price of $35 per barrel, and stated that the pre-salt fields could have the capacity to reach breakeven as low as $19 per barrel in the near future.