© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A logo of Brazil’s state oil company Petrobras is seen at its headquarters in Rio de Janeiro.
By Rodrigo Viga Gaier RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s candidate to lead state oil company Petrobras said on Saturday that the company needs to find a “balance” in the price of fuel, considering the impact on shareholders, investors , sellers and consumers. . Joaquim Silva e Luna, a retired army general and former defense minister who oversees the Itaipu state hydroelectric dam on the border with Paraguay and Argentina since 2019, was elected on Friday to be the next executive director of Petróleo Brasileiro SA. Bolsonaro has criticized Roberto Castello Branco, current CEO of the state-owned firm formally known as Petroleo Brasileiro SA, for ignoring complaints from truckers when he raised diesel prices 15% this week, following the rise in global markets. Petrobras shares tumbled on Friday on growing investor fears of political interference in the price of fuel, which has caused billions of dollars in losses over the past decade. Luna was cautious in some of his first public comments since Bolsonaro made the announcement in a social media post Friday night, seeking to allay concerns that the company would lose autonomy to set prices in Brazil, where it dominates the market. . “There is no way to interfere in the pricing policy. There is an executive management … and we have the capacity to handle the problem. We will reflect on the economy as well as on the trucker who has no cargo to transport,” he added. he told Reuters in an interview. “We need to find a balance, considering the shareholder, the market, the oil prices, the currency, as well as the people, because the prices of gasoline and diesel have an impact on the entire production chain. You cannot ignore this. reality, “he said. Reflecting on his experience in military and government service, Luna said that he would be “a manager and not a general” at Petrobras. “My profile is to deliver results,” he added. The term of the current CEO, Castello Branco, ends on March 20. Encouraged by investors for his efforts to sell underperforming assets and reduce debt, the University of Chicago-trained economist would be the second Petrobras director in three years to set aside fuel price disagreements. In 2018, then-CEO Pedro Parente resigned when the government forced lower fuel prices in a concession to striking truckers. Parente had promised to set domestic prices in line with global markets, breaking with a policy that forced Petrobras to sell fuel below international parity, causing losses of $ 40 billion between 2011 and 2014.