In a Monday securities filing with 1Q20 production figures, the company noted that it had initially decided to cut April oil production to 2.07 million bpd.
But it said it decided later in the month to increase production to 2.26 million bpd. It also increased utilisation rates at its refineries to 79% after cutting them to 60%.
The reversal suggests Petrobras is confident in demand for its production mix even as rival oil majors scale back and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) orchestrates deep cuts in the face of rock-bottom oil prices.
“With demand for our products proving better than expected, we opted to gradually return average production to around 2.26 million bpd in April, while also increasing utilisation rates at refineries,” the company said.
In late March and early April, the firm had announced total cuts of 200 000 bpd. Oil production averaged 2.32 million bpd of oil in 1Q20.
While Petrobras did not say which fuels were most in demand in April, company executives have made a priority of producing bunker fuel, which is used by ships. 1Q20 production of bunker and other fuel oils by Petrobras rose 18.5% from 4Q19 and almost 50% from 1Q19.
New international regulations that came into force at the beginning of the year lowered the maximum allowed sulfur content of bunker fuels. Much of the oil produced by Petrobras is naturally low in sulfur, making it ideal for bunker production.
Executives have repeatedly said demand for bunker fuel appears more resilient during the novel coronavirus pandemic than demand for other products, such as gasoline and jet fuel.
Including natural gas and other petroleum products, Petrobras produced 2.909 million boe/d in 1Q20, down 3.8% from 4Q19 and up 14.6% from 1Q19.
The firm said its results were helped by various platforms coming online and negatively impacted by a number of scheduled stoppages.
Petrobras added that it was maintaining its guidance for 2020 oil production, which it divulged in November.
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