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Roberto Castello Branco dismisses names linked to the PT at Petrobras

Rio, 01/09/2019 – In his first days at the helm of Petrobras’ command, Roberto Castelo Branco began his work by promoting a kind of “highspeed” in the high ranking of the state. By dispensing all three remaining directors of Aldemir Bendine’s management and who ascended their career during the years of PT’s administration, the new president of Petrobras begins to give its face to the management of the state-owned company and gradually, in its speeches, your next steps.

Roberto Castello Branco: the new Petrobras´ CEO was indicated by president Jair Bolsonaro

In a message to the employees, shortly after taking office, Castello Branco ruled out implementing new cuts in personnel and gave some signals of the tone that he intends to give his administration: he said that the monopoly exercised by the company in the refining is something “not conceivable”, affirmed that the Petroleum’s business plan may have some “marginal adjustments,” reinforced the discourse against subsidies and promised to give more attention to natural gas.

So far, the first days of Castello Branco management were marked by the dance of the chairs. Four of the seven directors came out: Solange Guedes (director of exploration and production), Jorge Celestino Ramos (refining and gas) and Hugo Repsold Junior (development of production) and Nelson Silva (strategy and management). According to one source, the exchanges are aimed at disassociating the management of Castello Branco from names linked to the PT. The new president of the state was a councilor of the state between 2015 and 2016, indicated by the Union, during the government of Dilma Rousseff.

On the social role, President says that the goal of the state is to be a “good corporate citizen”

Career officials from Petrobras, Solange, Celestino and Repsold were elevated to the board in early 2015 after the collective resignation of the directors led by former President Graça Foster. The episode occurred amid the erosion of credibility involving the closure of the balance sheet of 2014, due to the difficulties of accounting for the losses resulting from the cases of corruption investigated by Lava-Jato. The trio took on an interim basis and was made effective with the arrival of Bendine.

When Pedro Parente took over the company, he chose to keep them on the team. The three also went through the presidency of Ivan Monteiro and said farewell after almost four years in their respective positions.

The choice of substitutes suggests that Castello Branco will pay special attention to the sale of assets. He has promoted at least two employees involved in the divestment and partnership program in recent years. Carlos Alberto Pereira de Oliveira, Solange Guedes’ substitute at E & P, for example, was leading the company’s portfolio management, partnerships and performance. Anelise Lara, who will occupy the area of ??refining and gas in place of Celestino, was executive manager of acquisitions and divestitures.

In a recent interview with an internal channel of the state company, Castello Branco said that “it is not conceivable” that Petrobras holds 98% of the refining market. He pointed out that the company will evaluate the sale of some of its units, commenting that the monopoly position is not beneficial to the company, because it exposes it to criticism and “attacks by many people from segments of society”, such as occurred during the truckers strike.

“We could not do better, selling some refineries and using these resources to finance the pre-salt, where we are the number one in the world? These issues have to be raised and answered,” he said.

He also stressed that he hopes to review the current business plan 2019-2023 “as soon as possible” and that it may make “marginal adjustments” to the strategy. The current plan provides for investments of US$ 84.1 billion, with a focus on pre-salt. Asked about the planned US$ 400 million investment for renewable energy, Castello Branco said that this is an investment decision that needs to be careful.

“We have to accelerate the production of oil and do it efficiently.” As for renewable energy, before we launch investing, we have to think deeply about whether we have the skills or not and the expected return, “he said.

About the size of the company, he discarded, at first, to reduce the effective staff. After a series of cuts in recent years, through programs to encourage voluntary dismissal, the number of employees of the parent company has been reduced from 62,600 to 46,900 between 2013 and 2017.

The new president of Petrobras also reinforced the criticism of the subsidies and left in defense of the freedom of prices in the fuels. He argued that, if maintained, the diesel subsidy program implemented under the Michel Temer government could cost another US$ 20 billion to Brazilian society. And he said that there are “smarter ways” to respond to the truckers’ lawsuit, without “crucifying Petrobras and imposing a subsidy that damages Brazil’s image, distresses investors and costs the National Treasury dearly.”

He also said he intends to turn the state into a major producer of natural gas. Today, the company’s production mix is very concentrated in oil, while some global oil companies have sought to balance this balance more and more, with a view to the growing importance of gas as a source of transition to a low-carbon economy.

Asked about the social role of Petrobras, he said that the objective of the state company is to be a “good corporate citizen,” that is, be efficient to grow and pay more taxes, royalties and help balance public finances.

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