New Petrobras President To Follow $32 Bln. Investment Plan

The new president of Petrobras said he was planning to follow the investment plan outlined by the previous administration. "We plan to meet the investments planned at $32 billion over the next four years...we have this target to fulfill," said Sen. Jose Eduardo Dutra. He is a member of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's Workers' Party and has served in the senate since 1994, representing the Sergipe state. He is a geologist by training, and has already worked for the state oil company. He was named president on Thursday and later confirmed by the company's new administrative council, where most members are Lula appointees. Lula was sworn in as president earlier this week.

"We are hoping to fulfill this (target) if we maintain competitiveness and we are hoping to achieve it under this administration," said Dutra shortly before a ceremony to hand him the post. The $32 billion was decided by the old administration. Former Petrobras President Francisco Gros said last week that this year's investment alone would be between $6 billion and $7 billion, under the same plan.

Dutra said he would continue a policy aimed at Petrobras' expansion abroad, focusing on Latin America and Africa. Petrobras expanded its regional reach last year by buying Argentina's energy group Perez Companc. He also reassured minority shareholders of their rights. "I want to calm minority shareholders, guaranteeing to them that Petrobras will continue supporting transparency and absolute respect to their right under corporate law and the company's statutes," Dutra said.