Petrobras notches $5.9 bn profit in Q3

Rio de Janeiro (AFP) – Brazilian state-run oil company Petrobras reported a hefty net profit of $5.9 billion for the third quarter Thursday, beating analysts' expectations as oil prices continued to climb.


It was the fourth straight quarterly profit for the company, up from a loss of $236 million for the same period in 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic had sent crude prices crashing.

Since then, Petrobras has rebounded on the back of soaring prices -- so much so that far-right President Jair Bolsonaro said earlier on Thursday it was making too much profit.

"Petrobras needs to be a company that doesn't post excessively high profits, as it has been doing," he said in his weekly live address on social media.

"It has to play a social role, in the good sense of the term."

Bolsonaro made the remarks just before the company announced its profit for the July-September period, which followed a profit of $8.1 billion for April-June.

Petrobras said the boost had come largely from the rebound of Brent crude prices to an average of $73.47 a barrel in the third quarter, up 70.9 percent in a year.

The company has largely passed that increase on to customers at the pump, drawing the ire of consumers -- and Bolsonaro -- as fuel prices soar.

The president had also criticized Petrobras on Wednesday, saying, "It's a state-run company that, with all due respect, is just giving me headaches."

He said he was looking at putting the company "on the radar" to be privatized as part of his government's massive sell-off of state-run firms.

Bolsonaro has not shied away from shaking things up at Petrobras in the past.

In February, he appointed army reserve general Joaquim Silva e Luna as chief executive of Petrobras, replacing respected CEO Roberto Castello Branco shortly after saying the firm should not be constantly "surprising people" with price increases.