STAVANGER, Norway, Aug 30 (Reuters) - The sale of a stake in Carcara, the giant Brazilian offshore oil prospect, to Norway's Statoil ASA will gain Brazil's state-led oil company Petrobras as much as $11 billion to pay debt or invest in other projects that promise to generate cash more quickly, Petrobras' chief executive said on Tuesday.
Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as Petrobras is formally known, sold its 66 percent stake in the prospect in July for $2.5 billion. But the sale will also free it from the need to invest its share of the area's estimated $12 billion to $13 billion development cost, CEO Pedro Parente told reporters in Stavanger, Norway. That cost would total $7.9 billion to $8.6 billion.
"First of all we are in a period where we need cash," Parente said. "Another issue here is that Carcara is not close to the other fields we have, so by not being close to the fields we would not be able to use the synergies we can use when developing other fields that are closer."
Parente also said Petrobras will meet its goal to sell $15.1 billion of assets by the end of 2016. The target, set in 2015, is designed to slash its nearly $125 billion of debt, the largest in the oil industry.
Statoil said it is excited about developing Carcara, where it expects to produce its first oil after 2020, when older mature fields in Norway will be in decline.
Statoil says Carcara contains 700 million to 1.3 billion barrels of oil and equivalent natural gas, enough for all U.S. oil needs for two months.
While Statoil has no official estimate for Carcara development costs, Chief Executive Eldar Saetre told reporters on Tuesday that the $12 billion to $13 billion suggested by Parente "is a starting point."
"I think the numbers we are talking about are covering the whole field," Saetre said. "Our target is to go lower on the costs, but it is too early to give a number."
More than half of the oil and gas discovered in the Carcara prospect is believed to extend beyond the BM-S-8 block, in which Statoil bought a stake and will require Brazil to auction off adjacent areas to develop.
Statoil's partners in Carcara are Portugal's Galp Energia SGPS SA (14 percent), Brazil's QGEP SA (10 percent) and privately owned Barra Energia do Brasil Petróleo e Gás Ltda (10 percent). Barra Energia is backed by U.S. investment funds Riverstone Holdings LLC and First Reserve Corp. (Reporting by Stine Jacobsen, writing by Jeb Blount; Editing by Dan Grebler)