RIO DE JANEIRO, July 26 (Reuters) - State-controlled oil company Petrobras said on Tuesday it plans to scale back its role in Brazil's natural gas industry by selling or sharing control of pipelines and opening its liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals to third parties.
The move by Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as the company is formally known, is part of a wider move to reduce its role in the transport, storage and distribution of natural gas and other fuels, said Jorge Celestino, the company's head of refining and natural gas.
Petrobras is in the middle of a plan to sell about $15 billion of assets by the end of this year to reduce its nearly $130 billion of debt, the largest in the oil industry, and focus investments on giant new offshore oil fields south of Rio de Janeiro, some of the world's largest discoveries in decades.
Brazil is also looking to expand the use of natural gas and the number of players in the gas market. Large amounts of new gas are expected to become available as new offshore fields come on line.
Some companies have been hampered in their ability to exploit new resources or make projects such as power plants viable by Petrobras' dominance of the gas transport system and a lack of clear rules, the IBP, Brazil's oil industry association has said.
"We want to be the main player in the discussion of the new model for the gas industry," Celestino said at a natural gas conference in Rio de Janeiro.
Reporting by Marta Nogueira; Writing by Jeb Blount; Editing by Tom Brown