Brazil Government Plans to Replace Petrobras CEO Joaquim Silva E Luna

(WSJ, 28.Mar.2022) — Brazil’s Mining and Energy Ministry said Monday the government intends to replace Joaquim Silva e Luna as chief executive of state-controlled Petróleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras, with Adriano Pires, an oil sector consultant with government experience.

The change comes after weeks of criticism by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro of the oil company’s early March decision to raise its wholesale price for gasoline by 19% and the price for diesel fuel by 25%. The president has said repeatedly since then that, though he can’t interfere directly in Petrobras’s operations, he can make changes to the company’s top management.

Petrobras had no immediate comment.

Mr. Pires is one of the founders of the Brazilian Center for Infrastructure, and has served as an adviser to Brazil’s National Agency for Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels and held other positions in government.

CEO Silva e Luna was an army general who just over a year ago was picked by Mr. Bolsonaro to replace the previous CEO, Roberto Castello Branco, amid a similar dispute over fuel prices. That decision sent Petrobras’s share price plummeting amid concerns over political interference in the oil company’s operation, though the price recovered in the following weeks.

The mining ministry said Petrobras’s board, which the government controls, will vote on Mr. Pires’s nomination and those of Luiz Rodolfo Landim as chairman and six more members of the board, on April 13.

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By Jeffrey T. Lewis and Luciana Magalhaes. Write to Jeffrey T. Lewis at jeffrey.lewis@wsj.com