New Petrobras CEO Pressed on Shipbuilding Reboot, Jobs

Copyright Iliya Mitskavets/AdobeStock
Copyright Iliya Mitskavets/AdobeStock

The next chief executive of Petrobras, Magda Chambriard, arrives with the résumé and mandate to make Brazil's state-run oil firm what it was under prior Workers Party governments: an engine of job creation and industrial development, said people familiar with the matter.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva - who used Petrobras to spur domestic shipbuilding and major refinery projects during his earlier 2002-2010 presidency - has tapped the four-decade petroleum industry veteran to reboot that vision, sources said.

The shake-up at Petrobras has also led to the exit of the chief financial officer and is expected to hit other senior execs. It may also undercut former CEO Jean Paul Prates' plans for offshore wind projects and a long-term transition to renewable energy.

Chambriard got her start in the industry as a Petrobras engineer in 1980 and ran Brazilian oil and gas regulator ANP from 2012 to 2016. She will be looking to breathe fresh life into domestic shipyards, fertilizer plants, refineries, and gas lines, said three sources with knowledge of the matter.

Brazil's struggling shipbuilding industry will be a top priority for her, said a source at Petrobras, citing Lula's frustration by the failure of Prates to revive the job-intensive sector. Chambriard and Lula have discussed proposals to create shipbuilding jobs in at least three private meetings, said a source close to Chambriard.

The same source said that no plan to make changes to the company's dividend policy had come out of the meetings between Lula and Chambriard. Another pet peeve of Lula, the president has complained publicly that the firm pays too much to shareholders while not investing enough in Brazilian industry.

(Reuters)

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