Profit at Brazil’s Petrobras rose by more than a half in the first quarter to a five-year high in a sign the state-controlled oil company may be moving past a massive corruption scandal.
Petrobras posted a net profit of 6.961 billion reais (US $1.96 billion) on May 8, a 56.5% rise over the same period last year, helped by asset sales and a pickup in oil prices. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, a gauge of operational profit known as EBITDA, hit 25.669 billion reais, a 2% increase over the same period last year.
Petrobras, which still holds the dubious title of the world’s most indebted oil company, said it generated 3.223 billion reais from the sale of stakes in assets like the Lapa field, and the Iara area in the offshore Santos Basin.
Results were helped by rising international oil prices, which increased from an average $54.04 per barrel in the fourth quarter to $60.18 per barrel in the first three months of the year, the company said.
The cheery figures come after a massive probe begun in 2014 showed construction companies bribed company officials and politicians to win inflated contracts from Petrobras, shaking investor confidence and sending its share price tumbling.
On May 8 Petrobras said net debt fell more than 3% to 270.712 billion reais (US $76.23 billion) in the quarter from the previous quarter.
Free cash flow was positive for the second quarter in a row but down 3% year-on-year as the result of the first payment to U.S. investors who won a class action against the company in January tied to the graft scandal.
Revenue from sales reached 74.461 billion reais (US $20.97 billion) in the quarter, up 9 percent from the same period last year. ($1 = 3.5512 reais)