FUELS: PETROLEO BRASILEIRO SA

Name: Petroleo Brasileiro SA

Petrobras was founded in October 1953, inheriting Brazil's national oil assets from the National Oil Council and a variety of private firms. The nationalized company consolidated and then began to build up and diversify. The company's exploration led to major oil finds in the 1970s during which time the company became the world leader in deep sea oil drilling techniques. Today offshore production accounts for nearly three-quarters of the company's production. The company invested an estimated $85bn in its first 40 years but the pressure for privatization grew and in 1997 the government opened up the Brazilian market for the first time. This led to Petrobras beginning an aggressive expansion drive in the international markets, initially in South America with such projects as the Bolivia-Brazil gas pipeline but more recently with investments across the world.

Based in Rio de Janeiro, the company now operates in the oil and gas industries (covering everything from exploration to retailing), in finance and in the petrochemical industry.

As part of the international expansion plan Petrobras has embarked on a number of high profile sponsorships, notably with the BMW Williams Formula 1 team, the Brazilian Olympic Committee and the Flamengo soccer club. The company provides Williams with fuel as part of the deal.

Petrobras also supports motor racing at all levels in Brazil and runs its own Petrobras Junior Team in Formula 3000. This is backed up by sponsorship of a team in the South American Formula 3 series and is the sponsor of a scheme to develop young automotive engineers in Brazil. There are also initiatives in karting and in rally raids.

The company is also involved in sponsorship of the arts and of a Formula 1 powerboat team.

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