Lost Value and Missteps: The Controversial Sale of Petrobras to Arabs under Bolsonaro


A recent study has raised concerns about the sale of the Landulpho Alves Refinery in Bahia by Petrobras, claiming that it was sold at the wrong time and with mistakes in the sales procedure. According to the study, the refinery was sold to an Abu Dhabi investment firm, Mubadala Capital, associated with the UAE royal family for a price below its market value. The sale was finalized during the Bolsonaro government’s administration in 2021.

The study’s findings were based on an audit report by the Comptroller General of the Union (CGU), which was obtained by CNN. The report reveals that the refinery was sold for $1.65 billion, which was below the asking price. The transaction was finalized at a time when the global COVID-19 epidemic was ongoing, resulting in falling economic indices that affected the refinery’s value.

The study suggests that Petrobras could have delayed the sale until oil prices recovered on the global market. However, despite the market volatility, the company decided to proceed with the sale, taking a risk with the binding proposals stage and negotiation phase.

The CGU report also identified problems with the methodology used for the sale, which had not been applied to the sale of Brazilian state-owned firms before. Given the uncertain outlook at the time, the study argues that Petrobras should have waited for economic conditions to stabilize before selling the refinery.

In addition to the concerns about the sale, the study highlights an unrelated incident involving the gifting of jewelry to former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro. Members of the UAE royal family reportedly gifted Bolsonaro with three sculptures, including one made of gold, silver, and diamonds, as well as a watch set with precious stones. The Federal Police are currently investigating this incident to determine if there is any link to the refinery sale.

The CGU audit has drawn attention to the privatization process and its potential impact on public assets and Brazilian consumers. The Senate opposition leader has repeatedly denounced the privatization for its inconsistencies, and now the Federal Police’s involvement suggests that further scrutiny is needed.

CNN reached out to Petrobras’ current management and former president Jair Bolsonaro for comments on the audit, but received no response. The article also attempted to contact Joaquim Silva e Luna, who was the head of Petrobras during the time of the refinery sale.

In conclusion, this study raises concerns about the timing and procedure of the Landulpho Alves Refinery sale. The audit report suggests that the refinery was sold below its market value during a challenging economic period, and questions have been raised about the methodology used for the sale. The investigation into the gifting of jewelry to former president Bolsonaro adds another layer of complexity to the situation. With the Federal Police involved in the audit, it is clear that further investigation is necessary to determine the full implications of these findings.