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Head Of Venezuela’s PDVSA To Be Replaced As Oil Production Declines

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Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) is bracing for more management changes, as its current president Eulogio Del Pino is preparing to exit the role as head of what Forbes once called “The World’s Worst Oil Company”, according to sources familiar with the matter and reported by Bloomberg.

Del Pino’s replacement is expected to be Venezuela’s current oil minister, Nelson Martinez, who would ultimately wear two hats: head of the state-run oil giant and Venezuela’s oil minister.

This most recent management change—the biggest housecleaning move for PDVSA so far—comes after a multitude of managerial personnel purges, including high-level management oustings at refining complexes less than two weeks ago and board member additions courtesy of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro back in January.

Maduro has vowed to clean up the cesspool that is PDVSA, but some see the move of replacing Del Pino as politically motivated. “Del Pino's apparent replacement Nelson Martinez is part of this broader trend of promoting loyalists," Eurasia consultancy analyst Risa Grais-Targow wrote in a report on Wednesday.

According to Grais-Targow, Del Pino’s replacement has long been a Maduro favorite for heading up PDVSA.

Back in January, several of Del Pino’s high-level executives—complete with a long history of oil industry experience—were axed and replaced with Maduro’s selections, which had little (or no) oil industry experience but lots of political and/or military experience.

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Also on Wednesday, Venezuela’s state prosecutor’s office said that Marco Malave, a senior manager of PDVSA, was arrested on “suspicion of irregularities” regarding domestic market fuel contracts. "PDVSA representatives denounced a series of irregularities in the protocol for contracting companies with vessels to supply the referred hydrocarbon to the Venezuelan market," read the official statement.

The arrest was made last week, and Malave’s bank accounts have been frozen.

By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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