Venezuela oil minister, PDVSA head to switch roles, Maduro says

By Jose Orozco on 8/25/2017

MEXICO CITY (Bloomberg) -- Venezuelan oil minister Nelson Martinez and state oil company president Eulogio Del Pino will switch roles as the South American country’s production wanes and money dries up.

Del Pino will soon go on a series of foreign trips to strengthen alliances ahead of a meeting of heads of state which will seek accords on oil and gas prices, President Nicolas Maduro said on state television.

“Eulogio, you will do battle in the world,” Maduro said. “That is your main mission.”

Maduro’s moves come after the almost 90% drop in profits at Petroleos de Venezuela SA last year amid declining output and a drop in oil prices. Venezuela and PDVSA are under intense scrutiny from investors as U.S. sanctions against key government officials and a power grab by President Nicolas Maduro threaten to disrupt financial flows.

Del Pino, who has worked for PDVSA for about 30 years, had been in charge of the company from 2014 until January, when his dual roles of president and oil minister were split to make Martinez, previously the head of U.S.-based unit Citgo Petroleum Corp., the new minister.

Del Pino was said to plan departing PDVSA to run as a delegate for a constitutional convention called by Maduro, according to a company official who asked not to be named. Petroleos de Venezuela SA has been preparing for Del Pino’s departure for several months.

The move would come after a board shakeup in January and the subsequent replacement of some refining managers. Maduro said Martinez as head of PDVSA will seek to strengthen partnerships with foreign companies operating in the Orinoco Belt by improving their stakes, while increasing refining capacity and boosting production.

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