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Citgo Petroleum, the U.S. refining unit of troubled Venezuelan state oil firm PDVSA, said that the United States had revoked the U.S. visa of Citgo’s chief executive Asdrubal Chavez, in the latest blow to Venezuela’s troubled oil sector.
Asdrubal Chavez, cousin of late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, was appointed chief executive officer at Citgo by the incumbent Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in 2017.
The U.S. State Department has broad authority to revoke visas, but doesn’t discuss individual visa cases because they are confidential, spokesman Noel Clay told Reuters.
Citgo didn’t explain why its CEO’s visa had been revoked, but a spokeswoman for the Houston-based unit of the Venezuelan company PDVSA said in a statement to Reuters that the “day-to-day operations of CITGO remain uninterrupted and senior leadership remains unchanged.”
According to Houston Chronicle, the U.S. State Department has ordered Asdrubal Chavez to surrender his U.S. visa amid an ongoing probe into PDVSA. Chavez is said to have been given 30 days to leave the United States.
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Chavez has to lead Citgo’s U.S. operations from outside the United States. Citgo owns three crude oil refineries in the U.S.—in Lake Charles, Louisiana, with a capacity of 425,000 bpd, in Lemont, Illinois with a 167,000-bpd capacity, and in Corpus Christi, Texas, with a 157,000-bpd capacity.
According to Bloomberg, one of the possible new work locations for Citgo’s CEO Chavez could be Aruba, where Citgo wants to refurbish a refinery to an oil upgrader for refining extra heavy Venezuelan oil into refinery-ready synthetic grades.
Earlier this month, ConocoPhillips won a court ruling allowing it to depose Citgo, involving the United States unit of PDVSA into the legal battle for enforcing an International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) award of US$2 billion in favor of Conoco as compensation for the forced nationalization of company assets in Venezuela back in 2007.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.