(New throughout, adds background about Sindicom and investment cuts at country’s main refiner Petrobras)
RIO DE JANEIRO, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Brazil fuel sales fell 3 percent in 2015 from 2014, the first annual decline in a decade, country’s fuel distributors’ association Sindicom said in a statement on Tuesday.
Gasoline sales fell 8.6 percent to lead the decline, as Brazil’s economy skidded into its worst recession in more than a century and state-led oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA , or Petrobras, raised fuel prices.
The last time fuel sales fell was in 2005, when they dipped less than 1 percent. Sindicom is responsible for about 80 percent of Brazil’s fuel sales.
The figures were released the same day that Petrobras, facing falling crude prices and a growing Brazilian recession was forced to cut planned long-term investments for the third time in six months. Petrobras, a member of Sindicom, is Brazil’s only domestic refiner of gasoline, diesel and other key vehicle fuels.
Some of the decline was made up by a 39.2 percent increase in hydrated ethanol sales volumes compared with the prior year. But based on energy content, total gasoline and equivalent ethanol fell 1.7 percent while diesel sales fell 5 percent. (Reporting by Jeb Blount and Marta Nogueira, editing by G Crosse and David Gregorio)