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Bolsonaro ousts Petrobras president after fuel increases

BRASÍLIA (AFP) – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro decided on Monday to change the president of state-owned Petrobras, Joaquim Silva e Luna, amid strong pressure due to recurrent increases in fuel prices.

The information, leaked by the Brazilian press, was confirmed in the evening by the Ministry of Mines and Energy, which proposed economist Adriano Pires, a specialist in the oil and gas field, as the candidate to replace him.

The appointment must be approved by the board of directors of the state-owned company next April 13, the ministry said.

Bolsonaro had appointed Silva e Luna, an Army reserve general, in February last year, also dissatisfied at that time with the constant price increases applied by the company.

The ultra-right-wing president has long criticised the pricing policy of Petrobras, which has set severe increases in line with the international price of crude oil.

But the increases have fuelled inflation, hitting Bolsonaro’s popularity hard ahead of his re-election bid in October.

In early March Petrobras increased the price of gas by 18.8 per cent, and diesel by 24.9 per cent, citing the “worldwide increase in the price of oil and its derivatives as a result of the war between Russia and Ukraine.” Petrobras shares fell 2.63 per cent at the close of trading on the Sao Paulo Stock Exchange on Monday.

Economist Alex Agostini, from the Austin Rating consulting firm, said the changes in company management are “a sign that something is wrong.”

File photo shows Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Joaquim Silva e Luna. PHOTO: AFP