On Friday night (4), Petrobras disclosed its financial results for the second quarter of this year – the first period in which the state-owned company was, in fact, managed by managers appointed by the government of President Luiz Inácio Lula de Silva (PT). And, as expected, the company’s profit fell compared to that recorded in Bolsonarist management.
The result, however, was celebrated by the company’s new management. On Friday (5), the president of Petrobras, former senator Jean Paul Prates (PT), stated that he marks the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the state-owned company and that it is in line with what the board and the board of directors indicated by Lula they want for the company.
That’s because, according to Prates, the company continued to profit even selling fuel at lower prices. And also because it increased its investments.
We closed the first half of 2023 with results that, in fact, mark a new chapter in the history of Petrobras, with emphasis on the robust operating performance, which translated into a solid financial result.
We continue on our journey of transformation, which will take us… pic.twitter.com/g2e164leLd
— Jean Paul Prates (@jeanpaulprates) August 4, 2023
In the second quarter, Petrobras earned R$ 28.7 billion. This was 24% less than the company had profited in the first (R$ 38.1 billion) and 47% less than in the second quarter of 2022 (R$ 54.3 billion).
In May – that is, during the second quarter – Petrobras announced that it would stop selling fuels with values calculated based on the Import Parity Price (PPI). After that, it lowered gasoline three times and maintained that price even after a recent rise in the value of a barrel of oil on the foreign market.
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This reduced the company’s revenues from the first to the second quarter. It dropped from BRL 139 billion to BRL 113 billion – 18% less.
The change, however, contributed to the fall in inflation in the month, opening up space even for cutting the basic interest rate of the national economy, the Selic.
“In this first semester of management we were able to establish a commercial strategy that is producing the results that we wanted so much”, added Prates.
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Lula had promised in his election campaign to “Brazilize” fuel prices. She indicated Prates to Petrobras with this mission.
Under his management, Petrobras increased the capacity utilization of its refineries to 93% in the second quarter of 2023. It was the highest utilization since 2015.
Lula also promised to resume investments in the state-owned company. In fact, according to the company’s financial statements, investment grew 30.5% from the first to the second quarter of this year. It surpassed by 5.5% the investment of the second quarter of 2022, when the company was earning 33.4% more than now.
Prates pointed out that Petrobras’ investment will be increasingly directed towards the production of renewable energy, with low carbon emissions. Today, it accounts for 6% of everything invested by the company. It will be raised to 15%.
“We are committed to leading the country’s energy transition in a fair, safe and inclusive way, driven by the partnerships we are establishing with companies of technical excellence”, he added.
Petrobras, by the way, reduced the remuneration of its shareholders to strengthen its investments. The change gives more freedom to buy stakes in companies and even buy back shares from investors who do not agree with long-term projects in which the company wants to invest.
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The company announced on Friday that R$ 157.8 million will be used to withdraw the company’s shares from the market in 12 months. The project is a pilot and can be expanded.
During the Bolsonaro government, Petrobras reduced investments, sold part of its assets and became one of the companies that most distributed profits to shareholders.
For economist Eric Gil Dantas, from the Social Observatory of Petroleum (OSP), the new dividend distribution policy is much better, but still compromises investment capacity at a time of energy transition.
Oil exploration is still Petrobras’ flagship. It grew by 1.4% from the first quarter to the second quarter of 2023, but grew by 3.9% compared to the second quarter of 2022.
The pre-salt provided 78% of Petrobras’ production from April to June. Even so, Petrobras will seek to expand its production areas, including resuming areas that were paralyzed, such as the fields at the Bahia Terra hub, in a land area in Bahia.
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On Friday, Petrobras’ new board reinforced that the company remains interested in exploring for oil in the area at the mouth of the Amazon River – a project contested by environmentalists and that the Brazilian Institute of the Environment (Ibama) has not yet authorized.
The company, however, also plans to explore oil in Colombia, Suriname, Guyana and even on the west coast of the African continent.
The state company is also going to reactivate its fertilizer factories, according to Prates. The president said that he wants Petrobras working on behalf of shareholders, but also society.
“This quarter’s result already shows the change in the company’s policy”, summarized Dantas. “A more aggressive drop in prices, greater use of refineries, greater investment and a decrease in dividend payments. It is true that all of this is less intense than it should and could be, but even so, it shows an important turnaround for the company.”
Editing: Thalita Pires