Despite a potentially tight market for oil, Petrobras CEO José Sergio Gabrielli is optimistic about the future of the industry. As a world leader in deepwater drilling, Petrobras has become the world's fourth largest company in terms of market capitalization, exemplifying Brazil's emergence as an economic superpower.
Due to sustainable growth of the company, with a record $70 billion share offering in 2010, Gabrielli was recently named Oil Executive of the Year by the Energy Intelligence Group, based on the votes of leaders of the 100 largest companies in the oil industry.
“I must stress that this award represents the culmination of a long and applied work that has been done successfully by a large number of relevant, applied, and courageous workers,” Gabrielli said at the 32nd annual Oil & Money conference in London.
In the 1990s, Petrobras had undertaken some great risks by investing heavily in deepwater oil deposits to find and extract oil from the bottom of the ocean. When a significant amount of oil was found in the Santos Basin in 2004, the course of oil exploration in Brazil changed forever. Digging deeper, Petrobras found an accumulation of giant gas and oil reservoirs in other pre-salt areas, which are expected to more than double reserves and production in upcoming years.
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The company also currently has three biodiesel production plants and is partnered with a major ethanol producing company to boost the capacity of electricity from sugar cane bagasse. "We are far and ahead of almost all countries in the world in the use of renewable sources of energy right now," Gabrielli said in an interview with AS/COA in 2009.
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Though efforts are being made, renewables are a long way from gaining the power that oil can supply for energy, Gabrielli explains. “Over the next 40 years, despite recent advances, the volume of alternative energy as a primary source will still be low,” Gabrielli says in an interview with Forbes. “Wind, solar, geothermal and tidal energy generated in the world today represent less than 1 percent of global energy. If they grow 10 times by 2020, they will reach only 9 percent of what the world needs. Therefore, oil will continue to be the world’s primary source of energy for a long time.”
Oil production will be able to better keep up with demand as cars, transportation systems and homes become more efficient and use less oil over time. And since the demand for energy is higher in developing countries, Gabrielli believes Brazil could very well be one to lead the way.