Truckers criticize new diesel increase by Petrobras

Abrava (Brazilian Association of Motor Vehicle Drivers) said it was “indignant” with the new diesel price increase announced today by Petrobras, which will undergo an 8.87% readjustment at refineries starting tomorrow, with the fuel price for distributors from R$4.51 to R$4.91 per liter.

In a press release, the leader of truck drivers Wallace Landim, known as Chorão, pointed out that the government of President Jair Bolsonaro (PL) and Petrobras have changed their price increase strategy: one week they communicate a readjustment in the value of gas, the other gasoline and therefore diesel.

When citing the “return of the specter of inflation”, Chorão emphasizes that, with the new increase, the orientation is for truck drivers to also increase the values ​​of freight and, at the same time, this impacts on consumers’ pockets, due to the high prices of foods.

“The specter of inflation has returned, when diesel goes up, the products transported by truck drivers will go up the next day […] I will cite the example of fruit and vegetables: the price has changed at the pump, the housewife can already feel the increase the next day at the open market, and it’s not the marketer’s or the truck driver’s fault, it’s the PPI’s fault (import parity price) “, he declared.

The PPI cited by Chorão was instituted in October 2016, at the time of the Michel Temer government (MDB), when Petrobras started to calculate the price of fuels based on the international market and to pass on variations more frequently to consumers.

Since then, fuels in Brazil have been accumulating a real increase (above inflation), while the state-owned company last week presented a historic profit of R$ 44.5 billion in just three months, most of which goes to the coffers of the federal government, today managed by Bolsonaro.

The PPI is criticized by left-wing politicians and unions linked to Petrobras workers. They consider that international parity serves to guarantee shareholder profits, but they despise the company’s social function: supplying the population at fair prices.

Specialists, however, say that linking prices to the international market is the only way to attract investment and stimulate domestic competition.

Rising diesel prices could trigger a new strike, fears Bolsonaro

Last week, during a live on social media, President Jair Bolsonaro warned of the fact that there was a “convulsion” with a new increase in the price of diesel. The representative made reference to the truck drivers’ strike that took place in 2018, under the management of Michel Temer, of which he was one of the enthusiasts.

According to Bolsonaro, Petrobras’ billionaire profit is “absurd” and “rape”. In addition, he asked the state-owned company not to readjust fuel prices, as the company “must have a social function”.

The president also recalled the situation of economic crisis, the war in Ukraine, which affects the price of a barrel, and taxes levied on fuel as other factors for price increases.

Increase goes into effect from tomorrow

Through a statement released today, Petrobras announced that diesel will undergo a readjustment of 8.87% and, as of tomorrow, fuel will jump from R$4.51 to R$4.91 per liter. The last increase made by the state-owned company was on March 11 — at the time, diesel had already risen 24.9%.

“This decision noted both misalignment in prices and heightened volatility in the market,” the company said. “Since that date [11 de março]Petrobras kept its diesel and gasoline prices unchanged and reduced LPG prices, observing the market dynamics of each product”, he added.

According to Petrobras, the global balance of diesel is affected by a reduction in supply compared to demand. “Global inventories are low and below the seasonal lows of the last five years in the main supplying regions”, says the state-owned company, adding that the “difference between the price of diesel and oil has never been so high”.

Gasoline and LPG prices — cooking gas, are maintained for the time being.

Interference in the command of the company

In April, José Mauro Ferreira Coelho was sworn in as the new president of Petrobras, after a nomination by the Bolsonaro government. His name was approved by the company’s board of directors.

The executive defends Petrobras’ pricing policy, which links fuel to dollar and oil prices on the international market.

In October of last year, shortly before leaving the post of secretary for Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels at the Ministry of Mines and Energy, Coelho told Agência Brasil that the rise in fuel prices is not a Brazilian phenomenon, but a wave that caught the world in the resumption of the economy after the height of the covid-19 pandemic. He understands that Brazil needs to monitor foreign prices to guarantee supply, since it does not refine all the fuel it consumes.

The change in command of the company came more than two weeks after Bolsonaro decided to fire the then president, General Joaquim Silva e Luna, amid soaring fuel prices. It was the second change of leadership at Petrobras during the Bolsonaro government. The first took place in February last year, when the president interfered to remove Roberto Castello Branco from office.

Petrobras money in the federal coffers

Between January 2019 (beginning of the Bolsonaro government) and March this year, Petrobras has already injected R$447 billion into the federal coffers, taking into account, in addition to dividends, taxes and royalties paid. The figures appear in the company’s tax reports.

The amount paid to the Union, therefore, corresponds to approximately five times the Auxílio Brasil budget planned for this year, around R$ 89 billion.

According to a survey carried out by the financial information company Economática, Petrobras was the oil company that recorded, in dollars, the highest net profit in the first quarter in the world. The profit of the Brazilian state-owned company, of US$ 9.405 billion, was almost double the US$ 5.480 billion registered by the American ExxonMobil, the largest oil company in the world by market value.