Petrobras, Brazil oil sector could get lift from impeachment
By Jeb Blount
RIO DE JANEIRO, April 18 (Reuters) - Brazil's corruption-battered state oil company Petrobras could be a big beneficiary if the country's opposition parties impeach President Dilma Rousseff, investors and analysts said on Monday.
Vice President Michel Temer, who would take power if Rousseff were impeached, is considered open to industry calls for changes to oil rules brought in by her Workers' Party over the past decade.
Rousseff's critics have said the policies, aimed at boosting state control of huge offshore discoveries, drove up costs, limited output and built up Petrobras' crippling $126 billion debt, the largest of any oil company.
"First off, Petrobras will no longer be used as a tool for monetary policy," said Edwin Gutierrez, head of emerging market sovereign debt at Aberdeen Asset Management in London, pointing to a longtime policy of keeping gasoline prices artificially low to keep a lid on inflation.
Many have said Rousseff's policies left Brazil's oil industry and Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as Petrobras is formally known, with few options but layoffs, cutbacks and asset sales when oil prices plunged and a giant corruption scandal was uncovered over the last year and a half.
With Brazil's offshore oil among some of the world's most expensive to extract, any new government would have to make changes to attract a shrinking pool of investment capital away from other oil producers, he added.
Brazilian oil unions, some of the biggest opponents of Rousseff's impeachment, are also convinced changes are afoot if Temer takes over, said Deyvid Bacelar, an oilworkers' union leader and employee representative on Petrobras' board of directors.
Likely changes would include an end to strict local purchasing laws for ships and oil platforms, new layoffs to add to the tens of thousands already imposed nationwide, an end to minimum Petrobras involvement in key offshore oil developments and a wholesale selloff of Brazilian oil assets to foreigners. Continuación...