Brazil’s Petrobras posts record profit for 2022

RIO DE JANEIRO: Brazil’s state oil company Petrobras has reported record profits of 188 billion reais (about US$36 billion or RM161 billion) in 2022, due mainly to the global rise in fuel prices.

The result, published late Wednesday (March 1), represents a record in annual profit for a Brazilian company, previously held by mining giant Vale with 129.1 billion reais in 2021.

In the fourth quarter of 2022, Petrobras posted net profit of 43.3 billion reais, down 6% from the previous quarter.

On Wednesday, the company’s board approved the payment of dividends at 2.74 reais per share, for a total of 35.8 billion reais.

Chief financial officer Rodrigo Araujo Alves said the profit was due to higher prices and “management measures taken in recent years”.

Petrobras came under pressure when far-right president Jair Bolsonaro was in office from 2019 to 2022.

Bolsonaro changed the company’s CEO four times in as many years due to disagreements over petrol price increases, and even went so far as to accuse Petrobras of theft.

Brazil’s leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva chose a key ally, former senator Jean Paul Prates, to take over the job, but fuel prices remain at the heart of the new government’s concerns.

On Thursday, Prates held his first press conference as CEO, announcing that the firm’s pricing policy would no longer be tied solely to the international market.

“There will be other references to achieve the best price for the consumer,” he said. “We are going to charge competitive prices for the national market.”

The change in pricing policy will start only in May, when a new board is in place.

On Tuesday, the finance ministry announced the partial reinstatement of fuel taxes canceled under the Bolsonaro government to fight inflation ahead of elections last year that saw him unseated by Lula.

To prevent the price at the pump from spiraling, Petrobras said it would drop prices at its refineries. – AFP