UPDATE 2-Brazil's Petrobras beats forecasts with $1.8 bln first-qtr profit
* End of fuel subsidy, corruption slowdown drive results
* Total investments fall 13 pct, operating costs cut 22 pct
* Refining unit makes 6.18 bln-real profit
* Fuel subsidy removal offsets drop in crude price (Rewrites throughout to add additional results and Petrobras comment)
By Jeb Blount and Marta Nogueira
RIO DE JANEIRO, May 15 (Reuters) - Brazil's state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA beat analyst forecasts on Friday, posting first-quarter profit little changed from a year earlier, as an end to fuel subsidies helped overcome a plunge in crude prices.
Petrobras, as the company is known, also cut investments by 13 percent after a massive corruption scandal forced it to stop paying or hiring about two dozen key construction and engineering companies.
The scandal, in which prosecutors say contractors overcharged for work with the excess used for political bribes, has led to the resignation of nearly all Petrobras' top executives, a 6.2 billion reais ($2.1 billion) writedown and the paralysis of much of the company's activity since November.
Less activity helped Petrobras cut operating costs 22 percent as it looks to control its soaring debt load. The company is in a bid to regain investor confidence after a nearly$9 billion loss in the fourth quarter, the biggest in its history. Continuación...