Petrobras CEO replacement being discussed by Brazil officials, sources say


By Sabrina Valle and Lisandra Paraguassu

HOUSTON/BRASILIA (Reuters) -Officials in the Brazilian government have been discussing a possible replacement of the CEO of state-run oil company Petrobras, as they are unhappy with the firm’s direction, two sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has shown dissatisfaction with certain actions taken by CEO Jean Paul Prates. This month, Lula asked the CEO to tweak Petrobras’ investment plan to prioritize local job creation, Reuters reported.

“There should be changes” in the presidency of Petrobras, one of the sources said.

A second source close to the discussions, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said Prates should be replaced at some point, but there is still no substitute ready to take up the post.

Brazil’s presidential palace denied the information.

Fuel prices have also caused some tension with Prates’ relationship with the government. Last week, Mines and Energy Minister Alexandre Silveira said it was past time for Petrobras to reduce diesel and gasoline prices at its refineries.

Lula has also pressured the oil company to resume efforts to build a fertilizer plant, a product Brazil must import to meet demand from its agribusiness sector.

Petrobras did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Monday, newspaper O Globo reported that Lula’s chief of staff, Rui Costa, would suggest a replacement for Prates to the president. Costa later denied the report on social media.

(Reporting by Sabrina Valle and Lisandra Paraguassu; Writing by Peter Frontini; Editing by David Gregorio)

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