Brazil’s Bolsonaro says Petrobras privatization would be ‘ideal’ as fuel prices rise

(Reuters) – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Monday that dealing with high fuel prices in the country is his top priority right now, adding that he sees the privatization of state-run oil company Petrobras (PETR4.SA) as an “ideal” move.

Bolsonaro told reporters during a visit to Anguillara Veneta, in Italy, that he was “unofficially” told that Petroleo Brasileiro SA – as the company is formally known – is expected to raise fuel prices at the refineries again in about 20 days.

“Every bad thing that comes from Petrobras is my fault… I told (Economy Minister) Paulo Guedes that the ideal would be pushing for Petrobras’ privatization, but such a process would take more than a year,” Bolsonaro said.

The president, who previously opposed privatizing Petrobras because it was too “strategic” for Brazil’s national interests, started considering the move earlier this month, frustrated that he has been blamed for fuel price increases. read more

Last week, Petrobras posted third-quarter results that smashed profit and margin estimates less than two hours after Bolsonaro said the company was too profitable. read more

He once again mentioned Petrobras’ strong results during Monday’s interview, saying that he mulls using the company’s dividends to lower diesel prices in the country.

Bolsonaro’s popularity has been falling prior to next year’s presidential election largely due to a galloping inflation driven by fuel and energy prices. He said he will decide in March if he will run for reelection.

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