(MENAFN- The Peninsula) AFP
Rio de Janeiro: The board of directors of Petrobras on Thursday appointed Jean Paul Prates, an ally of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, as head of the state oil company.
Prates, a 54-year-old lawyer and economist, was previously a senator in northeastern Rio Grande do Norte state and a member of Lula's Workers' Party.
Lula described Prates as a specialist in the energy sector when nominating him for the job on Twitter last month.
In a statement confirming the appointment, the Petrobras board said Prates had been chosen unanimously.
Prates has 30 years experience in the oil, natural gas, biofuels and renewable energy sectors.
'I have been given the mission of managing Petrobras in the coming years,' Prates said.
He added that he was 'honored to lead a company that is the heritage of all Brazilians.'
Petrobras is the flagship of Brazilian industry. It is the largest company in the South American country but was at the center of the wide-ranging 'Operation Car Wash' corruption scandal.
As part of the graft investigation, Lula was himself convicted of accepting a bribe and spent 18 months in jail before a judge annulled his conviction. Read Also
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Petrobras went through some turbulent years during the presidency of Lula's predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro.
The company went through four different CEOs during that period due major disagreements over Petrobras's oil pricing policies.
Bolsonaro even went so far as to accuse Petrobras of theft over its price hikes.
The company sets prices based on the standard international rate for a barrel of oil.
The position of Petrobras chief executive is one that comes with great exposure to political pressure.
In its 68 years of existence, the company has had 39 CEOs, meaning they have lasted on average less than two years.
The markets have expressed fears that Prates could change the company's pricing policies and that under Lula's socialist government there will be greater interference in the running of state companies.
The Brazilian state owns 50.26 percent of Petrobras's capital and Lula has ruled out privatizing the company.