CRISES OF PETROBRAS THROUGHOUT HISTORY
Fernando Alcoforado *
Petrobras has encountered throughout its history with numerous threats to their survival.
The first major threat was posed by the end of the state monopoly of oil that was
exercised by Petrobras in the 1970s after the twin crises of high oil prices combined
with the terrible flow of hard currency world market by Brazil to the large volume of
imported oil. In light of these crises, the government of General Ernesto Geisel opened
the Brazilian territory to private and foreign oil exploration authorizing and directing
Petrobras to establish risk contracts with companies worldwide.
After the end of the state oil monopoly, were established for ten years, more than 240
risk contracts on land and at sea being offered to multinational and national private
companies more than 80 % of the Brazilian sedimentary basins, with the exception of
the Campos Basin who stayed with Petrobras. The result of risk contracts was
insignificant because who effectively ran the increase in oil production in Brazil was
Petrobras now the first in the world in the era technology to produce oil in deep waters
designing and initiating escalation of discoveries and production oil in the Campos
Basin, and later, in the pre -salt layer.
The government of Fernando Henrique Cardoso (FHC) sought unsuccessfully to
privatize Petrobras at the height of the introduction of the neoliberal model in Brazil and
later, there was another attempt to break the state oil monopoly with the adoption of a
process of forming Petrobras partnerships with companies interested in participating in
the opening of the oil sector process. This battle still continues at the current time
because Lula and Dilma Rousseff governments continued the neoliberal and anti-
national policies of the Cardoso government breaks the state oil monopoly.
The significant reduction in the area of exploration activity Petrobras suffer advances
with the entry of new private domestic and foreign companies through bidding
processes that the National Petroleum Agency (ANP) has been promoting since 1998.
With the recent auction of the field Libra the pre -salt layer, which is the area with the
greatest potential for oil production in the world, was consummated one more crime
against Petrobras and lese nation against Brazil when Brazilian government privatized
oil fixing the minimum payment of 41,65% when the Union would have to be over 80
%, according to experts.
The argument presented by advocates of risk contracts during the Geisel government
and the end of the state monopoly of oil over the FHC, Lula and Rousseff government is
that Petrobras would not have sufficient resources to invest in increased oil Brazil
production. It is, however, great fallacy of this statement. Currently, Petrobras does not
have the resources for investment in oil production because the federal government, in
its efforts to combat inflation is back in Brazil, prevents Petrobras to adopt rational
pricing of derivatives and capitalize the enterprise besides decapitalize the company
with the ill-fated purchase of the Pasadena refinery in the United States.
In recent years, the federal government has been trying to keep fuel prices, especially
petrol, without further increases to keep inflation under control which made that would
prevent the capitalization of Petrobras. Insufficient production of petroleum products in
Brazil, especially gasoline is forcing Petrobras to import it increasingly. The federal
government prevents Petrobras incorporates import prices in the pricing of petroleum
items. It should be noted that there is failure in the production of fuels in Brazil due to
three factors: 1) the record gasoline consumption; 2) lack of internal capacity to produce
gasoline; and 3) problems of infrastructure for storage and distribution.
Among the possible causes of the shortage of fuel consumption is driven by record
gasoline incentives from the federal government to the automobile industry that
provides a very high growth in the vehicle fleet, especially private cars. Clog the streets
of cars without the supply of fuel structure, road structure and no alternatives to the
rational use of vehicles configure lack of effective planning by the federal government.
It is not to be contrary to the production, sale and use of automobiles. It is generally
known that the growth of the automobile industry creates jobs and plays an important
role in the Brazilian economy. However, it is irresponsible to promote the growth of the
automobile industry without assessing their impact on the overall economy as indeed is
happening. Besides generating shortages of fuel, there is the risk of having uncontrolled
increase their prices to drop in your supply impacting negatively on the inflation rate, a
fact that is forcing the federal government to keep the prices of petroleum products
below their real value to keep inflation under control.
More recently, the complaint that the Board of Directors of Petrobras chaired by Dilma
Rousseff, who was Chief of Staff of the Lula government in 2006 approved the
purchase of 50 % of the Pasadena refinery worth U.S. $ 42.5 million arose in 2005 by
U.S. $ 1.25 billion . Some members of the Board of Directors state that it was a "good
deal" for Petrobras and, contradictorily, others, including the current president of
Petrobras and President Dilma Rousseff claim it was a bad deal. President Dilma
Rousseff said there had been withholding some information which led it to approve the
deal, contrary to the opinion of the International Director of Petrobras who said that she
was aware of everything.
Recent events perpetrated by Rousseff government compromise the financial health of
Petrobras, is the fact impede the capitalization of the company with the prevention of
increase in fuel prices, especially petrol, to keep inflation under control, either by
capitalization of Petrobras resulting from ill-fated purchase of the Pasadena refinery in
the United States. Both the suppression of prices of petroleum products to keep inflation
under control as the purchase of the Pasadena refinery are contributing to the continued
fall in the value of the shares of Petrobras Stock Exchange. This whole situation puts on
the agenda the need of the living forces of the nation to rally against the ongoing policy
of weakening Petrobras that may take it for privatization.
Alcoforado, Fernando, engineer and doctor of Territorial Planning and Regional Development from the
University of Barcelona, a university professor and consultant in strategic planning, business planning,
regional planning and planning of energy systems, is the author of Globalização (Editora Nobel, São
Paulo, 1997), De Collor a FHC- O Brasil e a Nova (Des)ordem Mundial (Editora Nobel, São Paulo,
1998), Um Projeto para o Brasil (Editora Nobel, São Paulo, 2000), Os condicionantes do
desenvolvimento do Estado da Bahia (Tese de doutorado. Universidade de Barcelona,
http://www.tesisenred.net/handle/10803/1944, 2003), Globalização e Desenvolvimento (Editora Nobel,
São Paulo, 2006), Bahia- Desenvolvimento do Século XVI ao Século XX e Objetivos Estratégicos na Era
Contemporânea (EGBA, Salvador, 2008), The Necessary Conditions of the Economic and Social
Development-The Case of the State of Bahia (VDM Verlag Dr. Muller Aktiengesellschaft & Co. KG,
Saarbrücken, Germany, 2010), Aquecimento Global e Catástrofe Planetária (P&A Gráfica e Editora,
Salvador, 2010), Amazônia Sustentável- Para o progresso do Brasil e combate ao aquecimento global
(Viena- Editora e Gráfica, Santa Cruz do Rio Pardo, São Paulo, 2011) and Os Fatores Condicionantes do
Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (Editora CRV, Curitiba, 2012), among others.