Petrobras boomtown turns desolate as refinery’s billions vanish

Sabrina Valle and Carlos Caminada – Yahoo Business, 05/04/2016

Located just 30 miles east of Rio de Janeiro’s bustling Copacabana beach, Itaborai looks like many oil boomtowns after the bust — except the deserted stores and empty glass towers that loom over this town of 220,000 speak of some bigger cataclysm than the collapse of crude prices.

“They said this would be the new oil city,” says Jefferson Costa, one of scores of migrants from Brazil’s impoverished north lured here by a multibillion-dollar petrochemical project that was supposed to create more than 100,000 jobs. Work on the complex, known as Comperj, has stopped, and unless new investors materialize, the single refinery now standing may never produce a single drop of fuel. “It’s empty inside,” says Costa, a plumber who lost his job six months ago when construction came to a halt. “People say it will become a large warehouse.”

Comperj has become a symbol of pervasive corruption at Brazil’s state-run oil producer, Petrobras. A sprawling investigation by federal police and prosecutors dubbed Operation Carwash has revealed massive graft, implicating construction conglomerates, banks, oil service providers, shipbuilders and politicians. About 2 percentage points of the 3.8 percent contraction in Brazil’s gross domestic product last year can be attributed to the effects of the scandal on the company and its suppliers, according to estimates from Tendencias, a consulting firm based in Sao Paulo.

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Soiled by oil scandal, Brazil’s model is primed for makeover

Juan Pablo Spinetto, Anna Edgerton, Sabrina Valle – Bloomberg Business, 05/27/2015

Oil was to be the elixir of Brazil’s dreams to build a formidable economy, promote industrial development and fund a more generous welfare state even as it attracted billions in private global investment.

Instead, crisis and disappointment in the oil sector are beckoning Brazil’s leadership to move — if grudgingly — toward more deregulated industries and to temper the government’s hand in using state-run companies to forge broader economic policy.

Which helps explain why, as her second term takes shape, some of President Dilma Rousseff’s ministers have jettisoned the statist language of her first four years in office and those of her popular predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Instead, they are floating some liberal notions more in keeping with the pre-Lula years.

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Brazil president says to maintain oil rules, national content

Reuters, 05/14/2015

May 14 Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said on Thursday that her government will maintain rules that mandate production-sharing contracts for the country’s most promising areas and high national content requirements for the oil industry.

“The local content policy is not something that can be set aside, it is central to my policy of reviving our country’s investment capacity,” Rousseff said at the christening of an oil tanker at the Atlântico Sul Shipyard near Recife, Brazil.

“We are going through a period of macroeconomic difficulty, but today things are different because we have these shipyards.”

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CEO of Brazil’s state oil giant quits amid corruption scandal

Reuters/Fortune, 02/04/2015

The firm’s board of directors will meet on Friday to elect a new management team to replace CEO Maria das Graças Foster and five other senior directors.

The chief executive and other senior management at Brazil’s Petrobras resigned on Wednesday amid a festering corruption scandal, sending shares higher as the government scrambled to find replacements capable of restoring investor confidence in the state-run oil company.

The firm’s board of directors will meet on Friday to elect a new management team to replace CEO Maria das Graças Foster and five other senior directors, Petrobras said in a securities filing.

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United States Subpoenas Brazil’s Petrobras

Adriana Gomez Licon – Associated Press, 11/25/2014

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission has subpoenaed documents in its investigation into corruption allegations at Petrobras, Brazil’s state-run oil giant said.

In a statement late Monday, Petrobras pledged to “cooperate with the United States public authorities with the same dedication it has been cooperating with Brazilian public authorities.” Petrobras acknowledged the documents requested were “related to an investigation into the company initiated by the SEC” and said the materials would be forwarded to the U.S. market regulator following consultations with the company’s U.S. and Brazilian attorneys. Brazil’s largest company had already hired two law firms, one local and the other based in the U.S., in order “to conduct an independent internal investigation,” the statement said.

Shares of the energy giant are traded on the New York Stock Exchange, which allows the SEC to conduct its own investigation into Brazil’s largest company, long considered a crucial motor for the country’s development.

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Petrobras scam allegations weigh on Brazil as blacklist fears rise

Joe Leahy – Financial Times, 11/24/2014

When black money market dealer Alberto Youssef was arrested by police in March, he was carrying seven mobile phones with another 30 in a desk in his office, an officer involved in the case said.

The reason the jailed conspirator in what is emerging as Brazil’s biggest corruption scandal might have needed so many phones is becoming clearer after police this month raided the offices of Brazil’s major construction companies, arresting scores of officials and executives in the process.

The builders being investigated in the scam, in which Mr Youssef allegedly co-operated with former Petrobras director Paulo Roberto Costa to skim billions of dollars off the state-owned oil company to pay kickbacks to politicians, are responsible for much of Brazil’s infrastructure projects, from airports and nuclear submarine bases to stadiums for the 2016 Olympics.

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Top banker won’t be Brazil’s finance minister: official

Alonso Soto – Reuters, 11/20/2014

The chief executive of Brazilian bank Bradesco SA will not be the country’s next finance minister, a government official said on Thursday, after two local newspapers reported he turned down the job in a major setback for recently re-elected President Dilma Rousseff.

Luiz Carlos Trabuco is out of the running for the post, the official said on condition of anonymity. The official declined to confirm or deny that Trabuco had been offered the job.

Since Rousseff won a runoff vote on Oct. 26, she has yet to name a new finance minister for her second term. Brazil’s economy is struggling with slow growth, high inflation and fallout from a growing corruption scandal at state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA.

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