Petrobras gives up on selling fertilizer plant to Russian group

fertilizers plant
UFN-3 plant in Três Lagoas. Photo: Div.

Petrobras announced on Thursday that it has given up on selling a fertilizer plant located in Três Lagoas, Mato Grosso do Sul, to Russian group Acron. A new divestiture process will be opened “as soon as possible.” According to Petrobras, the buyer’s business plan “made certain government approvals impossible.”

The sale, which has dragged on since 2020, was announced by the government in February, shortly before President Jair Bolsonaro’s visit to Vladimir Putin in Russia and the start of the war with Ukraine.

The UFN-3 plant was designed in 2008 to reduce Brazil’s dependence on fertilizer imports. Construction began in 2011, when Petrobras planned to use gas from its deepwater pre-salt reserves for different business purposes — one being the production of fertilizers. 

Works stopped three years later, despite the project being 81-percent complete. With Petrobras engulfed in a series of corruption scandals, it decided to focus solely on its oil and gas business. Despite the current construction being no more than a shell of the original design, maintaining it costs Petrobras money. 

Senator and presidential hopeful Simone Tebet, a former mayor of Três Lagoas, celebrated the decision. She said the plant would not produce Brazilian fertilizers, but rather simply mix inputs from Russia.