UPDATE 2-Worst Petrobras strike in 20 years hurts Brazil oil output
(Updates with official Petrobras output figures)
By Jeb Blount
RIO DE JANEIRO Nov 4 (Reuters) - A four-day strike at Petrobras gathered steam on Wednesday, cutting crude and natural gas output from the No. 2 South American oil producer and threatening to become the most disruptive walkout at the state-run oil company in 20 years.
On Wednesday, Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as Petrobras is formally known, said in a securities filing late Wednesday that oil output in Brazil was about 140,000 barrels a day, or 6.5 percent below pre-strike levels of about 2.1 million barrels a day.
Using contingency plans management restored production that was cut by as much as 273,000 barrels a day, or 13 percent below pre-strike levels on Monday, and by 178,000 barrels a day on Tuesday, or 8.5 percent below levels before the strike began Sunday, Petrobras said.
The strike is having a "significant" financial impact on Petrobras a company source told Reuters late Wednesday adding that output cuts had not changed significantly from Tuesday.
The cuts have already caused the biggest strike-induced hit to Petrobras' crude output since a 32-day strike in 1995 that led to lines at gas stations and military occupation of refineries. The latest strike is also likely to increase pressure on a company hobbled by a corruption scandal and struggling under $130 billion of debt, the largest in the world oil industry.
"This is serious because it is happening in the midst of Brazil's worst economic crisis in decades and in the middle of Petrobras' worst crisis ever," said Adriano Pires, head of the Brazilian Infrastructure Institute, a Rio de Janeiro energy research company.
"It's like the unions are saying, 'Hey, Petrobras is in intensive care. Let's pull the plug!'" Pires said. Continuación...