Economic times are shaky. Joe Biden, U.S. Vice President says, “It’s going to get worse before it gets better.” Really? I wasn’t sure. It’s no secret and many of us in the oil and gas industry are aware that business is getting tighter. Companies are scaling back and budgets are being reviewed to find ways to survive that uncertain time ahead. Apparently, Petrobras didn’t get the memo.

Brazil’s state-owned Petrobras released its 2009-2013 business plan on Friday. The company’s board of directors approved the plan which calls for US $174.4 billion in investment, which is $62 billion more than the company’s previous plan. The majority of the spending – $104.6 billion – will be focused on E&P efforts. The remainder will go for downstream ($43.3 billion), gas and energy ($11.8 billion), petrochemicals ($5.6 billion), distribution $3.2 billion, and biofuels ($2.8 billion).

In 2009, the company plans to invest $28.6 billion, a number that is based on the company’s strategic position laid out in the 2020 strategic plan. The 2009-2013 plan maintains aggressive growth goals and incorporates the company’s resources at exploring and developing recent oil discoveries made in the pre-salt cluster. Production goals in Brazil are 2.68 million b/d in 2013, 3.34 million b/d in 2015, and 3.92 million b/d in 2020.

Currently, the Tupi pilot system is scheduled to go on stream in 2010. In addition, three other systems are expected come online in the Santos Basin’s pre-salt area: the Tupi and Guara 1 in 2012 and the Iara 1 in 2013. In addition to domestic production, Petrobras expects its international production to increase to 341,000 boe/d in 2013. Total production is expected to reach 3.65 million b/d.

The company stated in its report that it would invest an average of $34.9 billion per year with 90% being spent in Brazil and the remaining 10% ($16.8 billion) invested abroad. Compared to the company’s previous plan (2008 – 2012), the E&P investment was increased by 71%. Total E&P spending is expected to reach $92 billion, or 53% of the current $174.4 billion approved for the 2009 – 2013 period.

The company will make a significant effort to assess and develop its pre-salt discoveries over the next four years. The company’s 2013 pre-salt oil production target has been set at 219,000 b/d in 2013. By 2015, the operator hopes to reach 582,000 b/d. Natural gas production is expected to be commercial in 2013 with production at 7 MMcf/d. By 2020, Petrobras targets oil and gas production to be at 1.82 million b/d and 40 MMcf/d respectively. With an average Brent price of $37 in 2009, the company is charged with raising an additional $18.1 billion in funding to meet its $28.6 billion goal. However, it has already secured the majority of this amount from BNDES and other sources.

In this economic climate it’s relieving to see an operator with conviction. Boom and bust cycles are not new to the oil business, and investing in future prospects serves as a reminder that the business always bounces back.