The rise of Jean Paul Prates to become, very probably, the chief executive of Brazilian oil giant Petrobras would have been hard to envisage two years ago.

Known as an erudite consultant who helped shape the opening of Brazil’s oil and gas sector in the late 1990s, Prates’ mastery of energy-related topics earned him invitations to enter the world of politics, but he is regarded as a technocrat by Brazilian oil industry insiders.