Brazil's Petrobras to play leading role on refinery expansion -new energy minister

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RIO DE JANEIRO, Jan 2 (Reuters) - Brazil's new mines and energy minister Alexandre Silveira said on Monday that state-run oil company Petrobras (PETR4.SA) would play a leading role in expanding the refining sector, and stressed the importance of developing renewable resources.

Petrobras would encourage other groups to join the process, Silveira said during an official event to start his term in office.

"It is urgent that we enlarge and expand our refineries, taking them to the country's regions and modernizing the plants," he said, without detailing where they would be expanding.

Silveira added that a nationwide deficit in refining capacity makes the population "hostages to the importation of oil products and natural gas," leaving Brazil's market exposed to "constant and abrupt fluctuations."

The ministry and Petrobras' new management would work "very closely" on the country's essential issues, he said.

The ministry would seek to "revalue" biofuels and include them in Brazil's main energy system through safe and efficient long-term policies, Silveira said.

Constant changes in the percentages of mandatory blends of biofuels in fuel sold at service stations hurts the sector, he added, saying the government would search out the technical parameters to identify an ideal blend.

Silveira also announced the creation of a National Energy Transition Secretariat, which would be dedicated exclusively to structuring public policies aimed to position Brazil as a world leader in clean energy - a top challenge for the new ministry.

Natural gas and biomass could be especially prominent as Brazil looks to build a medium- and low-carbon economy, added Silveira.

"The future of our generation should be guided towards innovation and the expansion of renewable resources," he said.

Reporting by Marta Nogueira; Editing by Sarah Morland and Grant McCool

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