Petrobras CEO Said to Back Energy Minister’s Pre-Salt Plan

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Petroleo Brasileiro SA management is supporting a proposal to remove its obligation to operate all oilfields in Brazil’s so-called pre-salt offshore area, according to two people briefed on the matter.

Chief Executive Officer Aldemir Bendine is backing Energy Minister Eduardo Braga’s plan to give the state-controlled company the right to allow foreign drillers to lead pre-salt projects as Petrobras focuses on containing capital expenditures and reducing the industry’s biggest debt load, the people said, asking not to be named as the matter is private.

Management opposes a bill from Senator Jose Serra that goes further by stripping Petrobras of its right to operate fields, forcing it to bid as any other company, the people said.

Petrobras said that it must respect Brazil’s laws. “Any initiatives to review laws are a Congressional or government prerogative,” the company said in an e-mailed response.

Senators from the opposition and from the PMDB, part of the ruling coalition, say they have enough votes to approve Serra’s bill.

Neither Bendine nor Braga would speak publicly on the subject after President Dilma Rousseff defended current energy policy, the two people said. The Energy Ministry didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Braga said in a recent interview in Houston that he supports allowing Petrobras to opt out of the obligation to own at least 30 percent of pre-salt projects and operate them.

Petrobras rose 2.8 percent to 13.35 reais at the close in Sao Paulo.

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