Brazil's state-controlled oil company Petrobras

has not ruled out an increase in the price of gasoline if justified, Chief Executive Maria das Gracas Foster said on Wednesday.

Brazil froze the price of gasoline at the pump roughly nine years ago, when oil was less than a third its current price.

Petrobras posted disappointing earnings in the fourth quarter due largely to losses in its fuel distribution and retail business.

A price (rise) in fuel has not been ruled out. There will be an adjustment at the moment that it is justified, Foster told reporters. Our investment is long-term and our policy on prices is, too.

Foster has made seemingly conflicting statements about the need for an increase in the price of gasoline at the pump recently.

On Monday, the executive who took over the helm of Latin America's largest company earlier this year said oil at $123 a barrel is not here to stay and does not require a change in its policy for setting fuel prices.

But on February 26, Foster told a Brazilian newspaper that fuel prices needed to rise on the local market to match the recent climb in international oil prices and restore the company's profit margins in its fuel business.

(Reporting by Leonardo Goy; Writing by Reese Ewing; Editing by David Gregorio)