Incidents continue at Brazil’s Petrobras, with chairman’s resignation

Murilo Ferreira, chairman of Brazil-based energy conglomerate Petrobras (Petroleo Brasileiro SA), has stepped down effective Nov. 30.

Ferreira was already on a temporary leave of absence since Sept. 14. News sources indicate Ferreira did not cite a reason for his departure. Ferreira had only been serving as chairman since April 2015, and he reportedly clashed with Chief Executive Officer Aldemir Bendine, who joined the company in February 2015 from his previous job at state-controlled Banco do Brasil.

This is the latest in a series of shakeups at Petrobras. On Nov. 4, the Fundao tailings dam in Minas Gerais, Brazil, burst, killing a dozen people and wreaking havoc on the ecosystem of the Rio Doce. In fact, waste from the dam reached the Atlantic Ocean Nov. 25. Mining company Vale SA is a shareholder of Samarco, which owned the dam, and Ferreira had been chief executive officer and president at Vale as well, for four years. News sources indicate Ferreira spent his entire career at Vale.

In addition, a broad investigation is ongoing into corruption at Petrobras, and sitting Senator Delcidio do Amaral and investment banker Andre Santos Esteves were arrested Nov. 25. Allegations are that top Petrobras executives accepted bribes from a cartel of companies for a time period around 2003 to 2010.

Petrobras operates in several segments of the oil, gas and energy industries. According to its website, Petrobras holds stakes in 15 small hydroelectric plants in Brazil, but the total capacity of these facilities was not listed. We previously reported the company was bringing 13 small hydropower projects on line in 2008 that had a total capacity of 288 MW. We also indicated the company had a 49% share of these plants.

In Argentina, the company holds a stake in the 285-MW Pichi Picun Leufu hydro facility.

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