(Adds Rousseff comments, Petrobras performance detail)
By Jeb Blount
RIO DE JANEIRO, April 14 Brazilian President
Dilma Rousseff on Monday lashed out at critics of Petroleo
Brasileiro SA, saying accusations of corruption, cost-overruns
and stagnation at the state-run oil company were
"I won't tolerate any type of wrongdoing, criminal action,
influence peddling or corruption of any type no matter who
commits it," Rousseff said in a campaign-style speech at the
launching of an oil tanker at a shipyard near Recife, Brazil.
"At the same time I won't stand by quietly when people carry
out a politically-motivated, negative campaign to hurt the
Petrobras, as the company is known, is at the center of a
mushrooming corruption scandal including a police raid on its
headquarters and the arrest of at least one former company
It may also face an investigation of one of its refineries
The company, whose $221 billion five-year investment plan is
one of the world's largest corporate spending programs, is also
being investigated by police and prosecutors in Brazil, the
United States and Europe over more than $100 million of alleged
bribes to company officials by Netherlands-based SBM Offshore NV
, an oil production ship leaser.
Despite discovering huge offshore resources in recent years,
Petrobras' production has stagnated and domestic fuel price
controls have forced it to boost money-losing gasoline and
diesel imports. Its market value has slipped from nearly $300
billion in 2008, when it was one of the world's most valuable
companies, to less than $100 billion. It is also the world's
most indebted and least-profitable major oil company.
The Petrobras troubles threaten to eat into support for
Rousseff, who is running for re-election in October and has seen
her government's approval rating slip to 36 percent from 42
percent in recent weeks.
Rousseff said critics are manipulating information about the
"Those who say Petrobras is losing value and importance in
Brazil are wrong," Rousseff said. "They manipulate data, they
distort analyses, they deliberately fail to realize the reality
of the world petroleum market to turn temporary market-wide
problems into supposedly irreversible and definitive facts."
She argued that, rather than hurting the company, her
government and that of her predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da
Silva, have revived a company that was ignored and poorly
treated by previous administrations.
Rousseff noted that Petrobras had only been worth $15
billion in 2003, when Lula took office. When she took office on
Jan. 1, 2011, Petrobras was worth $229 billion.
The Brazilian leader also praised the construction of the
Abreu e Lima oil refinery in the same Suape industrial complex
where she gave her speech.
The 230,000 barrel-a-day refinery is expected to cost $20
billion by the time it starts operating later this year. Each
new barrel of new capacity added by the refinery will cost
$87,000, one of the highest ever recorded and double or triple
the cost per barrel of refineries built in Latin America, the
Middle East and China in recent years.
(Additional reporting by Filipe Pontes; Editing by Paul Simao)