Bolsonaro says Petrobras could cut profits to control fuel prices


A tank truck is seen at the Alberto Pasqualini refinery of state oil company Petrobras in Canoas, state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, October 25, 2021. REUTERS/Diego Vara

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SAO PAULO, March 3 (Reuters) – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Thursday that state-owned oil producer Petroleo Brasileiro SA may, due to the crisis caused by the war in Ukraine, cut profits to prevent fuel prices from rising. explode.

In a weekly social media address, Bolsonaro said he was certain that Petrobras, as the company calls it, would do what is necessary to protect Brazilian consumers from steep price hikes.

“I will not interfere with Petrobras,” Bolsonaro said. “But Petrobras, in turn, is aware of its responsibility and knows what it needs to do to collaborate so that the price of fuel here does not skyrocket.”

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Last month, Petrobras broke its all-time record for annual profits and dividend payouts in 2021, thanks to sky-high Brent prices. Despite Bolsonaro’s pledge not to intervene, his remarks could raise concerns among investors that he is seeking to meddle in price-fixing.

Petrobras’ policy of seeking parity between domestic fuel prices and international markets has angered many Brazilians as the cost of Brent has soared. A growing chorus of politicians said Petrobras should help shoulder the burden.

On Wednesday, chief executive Joaquim Silva e Luna told Reuters that Petrobras had not yet decided on fuel price adjustments.

FERTILIZER CRISIS

Bolsonaro was joined by Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina Dias to discuss Brazil’s fertilizer crisis. Russia and Belarus are the main suppliers of potash to Brazil’s agribusiness giant, and Dias said Brazil could not resume imports from those countries before the end of the war, due to global sanctions and restrictions. effects on supply chains.

As a result, the Brazilian government is rolling out a new national fertilizer plan to boost investment in potash and phosphorus mining, which is expected to be ready this month. It aims to minimize bottlenecks in terms of legislation, taxation and especially environmental issues.

On Thursday, Dias said the plan should guide Brazil towards self-sufficiency in a crucial raw material for a significant part of the economy.

Bolsonaro said fertilizer supply problems would likely affect prices in Brazil, adding that such reliance on a key import can have “serious consequences”.

Dias said all fertilizer cargo ships arriving in Brazil would now have unloading priority at Brazilian ports.

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Reporting by Peter Frontini in Sao Paulo Writing by Gabriel Stargardter Editing by Matthew Lewis and David Gregorio

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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