BRASILIA, June 16 (Reuters) - The new chief executive of Brazil's state-run oil company Petrobras, at the center of a huge corruption scandal, said on Thursday that the investigation would continue relentlessly with the full support of the board.
In his first national TV interview since taking the job on June 1, Pedro Parente told the GloboNews 24-hour news network that a very small minority of Petrobras employees were responsible for the graft scheme uncovered over the last two years. The vast majority, he said, are honest employees.
Parente was picked by Brazil's interim President Michel Temer with the task of turning around the world's most indebted oil company that has been rocked by a sprawling graft and political kickback scandal.
Two members of Temer's cabinet resigned in his first fortnight in office due to allegations they had tried to obstruct the Petrobras investigation. His tourism minister quit on Thursday due to a new graft allegation.
Parente has discarded a government bailout and plans to sell Petrobras assets. But he said he has not discussed the sale of its stake in Braskem SA, Latin America's biggest petrochemical company in which Petrobras is the second largest shareholder.
He said Petrobras' debt was five times cash generation.
Parente said Petrobras does not have the financial resources to develop subsalt off-shore reserves on its own and backs a proposal in Congress to drop the requirement that the company lead all the development there.
Announcing some good news, he said the seventh exploratory hole drilled in the Libra field has found a 400-meter column of oil. He said the subsalt region's average production is now seen at 25,000 barrels a day, up from a previous estimate of 15,000 b/d.
(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Sandra Maler and Andrew Hay)
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