* Supply director sees gasoline imports 80,000 bpd in 2012 * Fuel imports, price freeze source of major losses for Petrobras * Petrobras could face losses without hike in gasoline prices SAO PAULO, March 14 (Reuters) - Brazil's state-run oil company Petrobras will have to make up for a shortfall in local refining capacity by importing ever larger amounts of diesel and gasoline, while new refining capacity suffers delays, a local paper reported Wednesday. Paulo Roberto Costa, Petrobras' supply director, told the Valor Economico newspaper that the company expects to import 80,000 barrels of gasoline and 160,000 barrels of diesel a day in 2012. Petrobras posted major losses in its supply division over the past year due to its need to import gasoline and diesel at international prices and sell them at local prices for a loss due to the government's price freeze on the two fuels. In December, Costa said Petrobras was importing a record 70,000 barrels of gasoline a day. The company is building four new refineries which would raise current refining capacity from 1.9 million barrels a day to 3.25 million barrels a day. The first, Abreu e Lima, is due to come onstream in July 2013 with the potential to process 220,000 barrels of oil a day, most of which will be diesel. The project has suffered several setbacks, including rains and the failing of Petrobras' partner in the joint venture Venezuela's PDVSA to come up with sufficient guarantees to secure a loan from Brazil's BNDES national development bank. Petrobras has a monopoly on Brazil's refining capacity. It controls 12 refineries, which are running at a record capacity of nearly 93 percent, Costa said. Unplanned interruptions to refining would cause Petrobras to turn even more aggressively to the international market for fuel imports. Costa said the growth in fuels consumption in Brazil over the past few years has broken out of a longstanding trend of closely tracking economic growth. He said in 2010 the consumption of gasoline, diesel and other derivatives grew by 9 percent while the economy grew by only 7.5 percent. Then in 2011, fuels consumption grew 8 percent while the economy grew at 2.7 percent and this year fuel consumption is due to grow 12 percent, while economic growth should come in around 3.5 percent. The consumption of gasoline alone grew 18 percent in 2010, 24 percent in 2011 and has so far expanded 32 percent in the first two months of 2012. If this trend continues, it would have a major impact on Petrobras earnings if the government does not raise gasoline prices at the pump and allow the company to regain its profit margin in refining and distribution. Costa said that the supply of ethanol, which fell nearly 20 percent in 2011 due to bad weather and poor investment in replanting low yielding cane fields, will only recover in 2014. Costly ethanol was one of the factors that propelled motorists' consumption of gasoline. Brazil's new middle class and higher levels of disposable income from a quickly rising minimum wage have also supercharged automobile sales over the past several years. Costa said Petrobras is importing 15 percent of its needs for petroleum derivatives. Petrobras representatives were not able to confirm the contents of the interview after a request from Reuters.