Brazil: The Mess at Petrobras

Whenever the subject of oil comes up, Brazil's politicians unfailingly quote two slogans. "The oil is ours," is one cry, and the second goes, "Petrobras is untouchable." Petrobras is Brazil's staterun oil company, and the country's biggest single business. It provides jobs for 30,000 people, produces 30% of Brazil's crude-oil needs, grosses almost $350 million a year. But Petrobras is also one of Brazil's sickest companies —hard hit by graft and inefficiency, and honeycombed with far-leftists. Last week, after a jolt of scandals, Petrobras was anything but untouchable.

In the space of a few days, the president and three directors...

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