UPDATE 1-Brazil's Petrobras gasoline imports likely to rise -CEO

Thu Nov 29, 2012 8:31am EST

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* State-led oil company imports 80,000-90,000 barrels/day

* Pasadena, Texas refinery part of plan to sell assets

RIO DE JANEIRO Nov 29 (Reuters) - Brazil's state-led Petrobras is importing 80,000 to 90,000 barrels of gasoline a day, an amount likely to increase over the next two months, the oil company's chief executive said on Thursday.

Rising demand and a reduction in the amount of ethanol blended into Brazilian gasoline have caused imports to soar this year. Imports, combined with the government's refusal to let Petrobras raise domestic fuel prices in line with world benchmarks, has saddled its refining division with more than 17 billion reais ($8.10 billion) in losses this year.

Petrobras CEO Maria das Gra├žas Foster told reporters in Rio de Janeiro that consumption keeps growing. "Imports are strong and there is a tendency for them to grow by January," Foster added.

The company, which is controlled by the government but also has private shareholders, has no timetable for increasing gasoline and diesel prices, Foster said.

Petrobras' Pasadena refinery in Texas is part of a package of U.S. assets that the company is trying to sell, although it has no timeline for when the plant may be sold, Foster said.

Petrobras preferred shares, the company's most-traded class of stock, rose 1.45 percent to 18.92 reais in Sao Paulo trading on Thursday on the BM&FBovespa exchange, its second day of gains after reaching a two-month low on Tuesday.

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