As expected, Joaquim Silva e Luna has been elected CEO of Petrobras, the Brazilian government-owned oil company. Silva e Luna was chosen by Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro to replace Roberto da Cunha Castello Branco, and officially elected at a board of directors meeting on 16 April.
At his swearing-in ceremony on Monday, Silva e Luna won market support, saying he expects to “reduce volatility without disrespecting international parity,” although he has also recently said that fuel prices should sometimes be subsidized. He emphasized that Petrobras should not foot the bill for those subsidies. He plans, as well, to continue investing in deepwater oil and gas assets, as his predecessor had done.
Interestingly, Bolsonaro had criticised Castello Branco as he allowed fuel prices in Brazil to rise. Silva e Luna now appears to be on much the same path. The new CEO may be challenged to maintain Bolsonaro’s support if he does not keep prices down for Brazilian consumers.
Between February 2019 and April 2021, Silva e Luna was the Brazilian general director of Itaipu Binacional, a company jointly owned by Brazil and Paraguay that operates the Itaipu Hydroelectric Dam, on the Paraná River that the two countries share. Prior to that, culminating a military career, he served in the Brazilian Ministry of Defense from March 2014 to January 2019, as general secretary of the ministry and as minister of defense. He has no oil and gas experience.
At its meeting last week, the board of directors also appointed other top Petrobras executives.