Brazil’s Petrobras stands by its pricing policy

Petrobras stands by pricing policy
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State-controlled oil and gas giant Petrobras re-affirmed its commitment to its current fuel pricing policy, the company said in a securities filing.

Petrobras sets fuel prices at its refineries in line with international oil prices, with periodic adjustments so as to limit the immediate effect of market volatility on consumers. But the company has faced growing pressure to keep prices down from President Jair Bolsonaro, for whom high fuel prices could spell the end of his re-election chances in October.

Mr. Bolsonaro’s repeated criticisms of Petrobras and frequent changes to the company’s leadership – he has fired three CEOs in just over a year – have fueled concerns that the government will seek to intervene in the listed company and force a change in its pricing policy.

Despite rising oil prices internationally, Petrobras has not adjusted its diesel prices in more than a month and its gasoline prices in over three months, amid reports that the Bolsonaro government is pressuring the board of directors to avoid further price hikes. Petrobras is in the process of approving the nomination of a new CEO and board, which should reinforce the government’s clout over the company.

However, the oil company has sought to dismiss rumors around possible changes to its pricing policy. “Petrobras … maintains its commitment to the practice of competitive prices and in balance with the market,” the company said in Tuesday’s securities filing.

A PoderData poll shows that 67 percent of Brazilians support some kind of intervention to lower fuel prices, which have climbed 29 percent in 12 months.