UPDATE 2-Petrobras defends U.S. refinery; still calls deal 'bad'
* Pasadena, Texas refinery has resulted in $500 mln in write-offs
* Petrobras shares on track to fall most in seven weeks
* CEO Foster says Pasadena refinery profitable because of shale oil (Adds additional comment from Petrobras and details about refinery costs)
By Jeb Blount and Anthony Boadle
RIO DE JANEIRO/BRASILIA, April 15 (Reuters) - Brazil's state-run oil company, Petroleo Brasileiro SA, on Tuesday defended its 2006 purchase of a refinery in Pasadena, Texas, even as it admitted the deal caused the company to lose money.
At a day-long Brazilian Senate hearing, Chief Executive Maria das Graças Foster explained that Petrobras, as the company is known bought the refinery in hopes of maximizing returns on Brazilian oil shipped to the United States.
Despite making a good returns on its oil in the early years a world economic downturn starting in 2008 reduced the amount the company could earn from the refinery's gasoline and diesel output, she said.
"With time the project developed a low probability of returning its investment," she said. "In the end you can't call an investment that has seen Petrobras write off $500 million worth of value on its balance sheet a good deal."
Foster's comments came as Brazilian lawmakers seek to learn more about a purchase that in recent weeks has drawn heavy criticism. Because of the refinery's allegely high cost, and losses incurred by the company at the refinery afterward, some critics have questioned the transaction and tried to tie it to a widening corruption scandal at Petrobras, as the company is known. Continuación...