Insider

Bolsonaro to swap Petrobras CEO for the second time in a month

The José Mauro Coelho era at Petrobras will come to an end after just over a month. Photo: Paralaxis/Shutterstock
The José Mauro Coelho era at Petrobras will come to an end after just over a month. Photo: Paralaxis/Shutterstock

Brazil’s Mines and Energy Ministry announced on Monday night that it will once again change the chief executive officer of Petrobras, the country’s state-controlled oil and gas major. The move comes just over a month after the current CEO, José Mauro Coelho, took office.

“The government thanks CEO José Mauro for the results achieved during his stint in charge of Petrobras,” the ministry said in a statement. “Brazil faces a challenging moment caused by the extreme volatility of oil and gas prices in international markets.” Fuel prices have risen by 33 percent over the past 12 months, according to official statistics agency IBGE. 

Caio Mário Paes de Andrade, the current Debureaucratization secretary, will be the government’s pick to head the company next, and will be presented to a vote by the board of directors.

Mr. Coelho’s position as the CEO of Petrobras became untenable after President Jair Bolsonaro fired Bento Albuquerque as the country’s Mines and Energy minister — Mr. Coelho’s only real ally in the government.

He is just the latest casualty of Mr. Bolsonaro’s strategy to distance himself from any responsibility regarding fuel inflation. The president has opted not to directly change Petrobras’ pricing policy — which pegs fuel prices leaving refineries to international fares — but has fired CEOs every time fuel prices go up, as a way to convince voters that he is trying his best to contain prices at the pump.

Late in March, Joaquim Silva e Luna was fired as CEO following a massive hike in diesel and gasoline prices. This latest move follows the same pattern — last week, diesel prices went up by almost 9 percent and experts expect the same to happen to gasoline.