Brazil Energy Minister: No massive changes in Petrobras shake-up


Brazil Energy Minister: No massive changes in Petrobras shake-up


RIO DE JANEIRO -- Brazil's government denied Friday that significant changes were under way at state-run energy giant Petroleo Brasileiro, or Petrobras, with the management shake-up limited to the company's chief executive.

"Nothing is changing at Petrobras, just the [chief executive]," Mines and Energy Minister Edison Lobao told reporters during a press conference in Brasilia. Any other changes in senior management would be at the directors' "own initiative," Lobao said, dismissing persistent chatter that several key directors could be ousted in the management overhaul. The Mines and Energy Ministry's press office confirmed the minister's comments.

Lobao confirmed that a "corporate" directorship could be created, while adding that a substitute to head the company's Gas and Energy department had not yet been identified. New CEO Maria das Gracas Foster previously led the Gas and Energy unit. Foster will present possible candidates to take her former position to President Dilma Rousseff on Feb. 9, when the board will meet to vote on Foster's ascension to chief executive, Lobao said.

Foster is replacing Jose Sergio Gabrielli, who has been chief executive at Petrobras since 2005.

Sergio Machado, president of logistics unit Transpetro, will remain in his current post, Lobao said. Machado had joined Exploration and Production Director Guilherme Estrella as directors rumored in local press reports to be on their way out at the federal oil company.

Speculation about Gabrielli's exit has been rampant for a number of years. There have been reports that Gabrielli would like to run for political office, most likely as governor of his home state of Bahia in northeast Brazil. Gov. Jaques Wagner is in his second term and prevented from serving another term because of term limits. Wagner confirmed this week that he has asked Gabrielli to join his administration.

Dow Jones Newswires

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