| SAO PAULO
SAO PAULO Brazil's state-run oil company, Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PETR4.SA), on Wednesday announced the sale of ethanol and petrochemicals assets for $587 million (480 million pounds), but said it would still fall $1.5 billion short of its divestment target for the 2015-2016 period.
Among the assets sold were its 46 percent stake in ethanol producer Guarani SA, which was acquired for $202 million by its French partner Tereos SA [TEREO.UL], which will now own all of the company.
Petrobras, as the company is known, said it will also sell its two petrochemical units in the northeastern state of Pernambuco - Petroquimica Suape and Citepe - to Mexican group Alpek SAB de CV (ALPEKA.MX) subsidiaries Grupo Petrotemex SA de CV and Dak Americas Exterior SL for $385 million.
Even after a flurry of asset sales this month, Petrobras failed to meet its two-year divestment target of $15.1 billion.
The state oil company said in an emailed statement that a court injunction this month blocking its negotiations to sell the Tartaruga Verde and Bauna oilfields was to blame for missing the goal. The company announced in October Karoon Gas Australia Ltd was interested in these fields.
Petrobras said its 2017-2018 asset sale target would be automatically raised to $21 billion to compensate for the shortfall.
Petrobras is selling off noncore assets in a bid to reduce its $125 billion debt, the largest in the global oil industry.
Last week, the company said it would sell $2.2 billion worth of assets to France's Total SA (TOTF.PA), including stakes in oilfields and two thermal power stations.
That announcement came a week after Petrobras sold its 49 percent stake in sugar and ethanol joint venture Nova Fronteira Bioenergia SA to partner Sao Martinho SA (SMTO3.SA) for $133 million in shares.
Petrobras said the recent deals were exempted from the ruling by Brazil's audit court on Dec. 7 that temporarily suspended its asset sale program. These sales were allowed to proceed because they were in advanced stages, the company said.
(Reporting by Luciano Costa, Tatiana Bautzer and Brad Brooks; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Matthew Lewis)