Brazil’s energy ministry said on Saturday it supported full independence for Petrobras to set domestic fuel prices, further holding past controls responsibility for burdening the state-controlled oil company with crippling debt that is the oil industry’s largest.
Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as the company is formally known, and other state-controlled companies, with shares owned by non-government investors should be free to act in their best interests without government interference, the ministry said in a statement.
It cited Energy Minister Fernando Coelho Filho three days after he told reporters that the energy, finance and planning ministries would review expected changes by Petrobras to gasoline, diesel and other fuel prices in Brazil. Noting that Coelho was appointed in May when Interim-President Michel Temer took over from suspended President Dilma Rousseff while she faces an impeachment trial in the Senate for allegedly breaking budget rules.
Petrobras has made some of the world’s largest oil discoveries over the past 13 years and invested about $300 billion on expansion. Rousseff’s Workers Party and her allies directed this spending to meet broad economic and political goals that helped lift millions from abject poverty.
Those policies failed to meet many of Rousseff’s promised development targets or put Petrobras on a sustainable footing. Many gains are being whittled away by Brazil’s biggest recession in at least 80 years.