The Brazilian government has picked top Petrobras executive Maria das Gracas Silva Foster to become the first woman to head the state-run oil giant, the company said Monday.
The government will propose to the Petrobras board of directors that Foster, currently head of the company's gas and energy unit, replace chief executive Jose Sergio Gabrielli, it added in a statement.
Petrobras said the board of directors meeting at Brazil's biggest company would take place on February 9.
The announcement followed press reports on the Petrobras leadership change.
"The president of the Petrobras board of directors, (Finance Minister) Guido Mantega has already indicated that he will propose to the next board meeting on February 9 the appointment of the current head of the gas and energy unit, Maria das Gracas Silva Foster, to head Petrobras," the statement noted.
The 58-year-old Foster, who is said to be close to President Dilma Rousseff, has been with Petrobras since 1978 when she joined the company as an intern.
She is reputed to manage with "an iron fist."
The daily O Estado de Sao Paulo, quoting industry sources, said Monday that Gabrielli, 62, planned to leave Petrobras to pursue other plans in his home state of Bahia.
Last year, Gabrielli denied that he planned to run for mayor of Salvador, Bahia's capital, in elections scheduled for October.
Petrobras found huge deep-water oil reserves off the Brazilian coast, which could hold some 100 billion barrels of high-grade crude and which will significantly boost its production in the coming years.
For that purpose, it launched the largest-ever share offering of some 70 billion dollars in late 2010.