This excerpt taken from the PBR 20-F filed May 22, 2009.
History and Development
Petróleo Brasileiro S.A.PETROBRASwas incorporated in 1953 to conduct the Brazilian governments hydrocarbon activities. We began operations in 1954 and for approximately forty years carried out crude oil and natural gas production and refining activities in Brazil on behalf of the government.
In the 1990s, in a series of legislative actions, the Brazilian state relinquished its monopoly on oil and gas activities. On November 9, 1995, the Brazilian constitution was amended to authorize the Brazilian government to contract with any state or privately owned company to carry out upstream and downstream oil and gas activities in Brazil. On August 6, 1997, Brazil enacted the Oil Law (Law No. 9,478), which established competition in Brazilian markets for crude oil, oil products and natural gas. Effective January 2, 2002, Brazil deregulated prices for crude oil, oil products and natural gas. See Regulation of the Oil and Gas Industry in BrazilPrice Regulation.
Our common and preferred shares have been traded on the São Paulo Stock Exchange since 1968. Petrobras was incorporated as a state-controlled company under Law No. 2,004 (effective October 3, 1953), and a majority of our voting capital must be owned by the Brazilian federal government, a state or a municipality. As of December 31, 2008, the Brazilian government owned 32.2% of our outstanding capital stock and 55.7% of our voting shares. We operate through subsidiaries, joint ventures, and associated companies established in Brazil and many other countries. Our principal executive office is located at Avenida República do Chile 65, 20031-912 Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil and our telephone number is (55-21) 3224-4477.