Brazilian state-owned oil operator Petrobras has revised its debt reduction plans. The ongoing fall in crude prices as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic has paused its plans to pay off debts.

The company now plans to maintain its gross debt at $87bn in 2020, the same level as last year.

Petrobras also plans to reduce its gross debt to $60bn, which is aligned with the company’s new dividend policy.

Swings in the price of Brent crude, which serves as the benchmark for Brazilian oil, has made net debt an extremely volatile metric, said the Brazilian firm.

Last week, Brent crude has fallen to its lowest level since 1999, after oil prices turned negative for the first time ever.

In a statement, Petrobras said: “The board also approved the update of the EVA (Economic Value Added) calculation for 2020, in order to maintain the right incentive and stimulate the targeting of goals after the Covid-19 crisis, which resulted in a more challenging scenario for value creation.

“The update also considered the achievements of the year 2019. Thus, the consolidated change in EVA target indicator was revised from $2.6bn to $2.1bn.”

Earlier this month, Petrobras announced it will decrease oil production by a further 100,000 barrels per day. This is an attempt to “strengthen resilience” after the drop in demand during the coronavirus pandemic.

Last November, Petrobras signed a share purchase agreement (SPA) to sell its 30% stake in the Frade concession to PetroRio for $100m.