Luisa Palacios, Citgo Petroleum’s recently appointed chairwoman, reassured the energy industry this week the Houston-based refiner remains reliable, despite the political and economic crisis that’s crippled its parent, Venezuela’s national oil company, PDVSA.
Speaking in Houston at the energy conference CERAWeek by IHS Markit, Palacios made her first major public appearance since she and the new Citgo board were appointed by the opposition government of Juan Guaido, the Houston Chronicle newspaper reported.
The U.S. and a number of other nations have recognized Guaido as the Venezuelan president. The new Citgo board replaced directors loyal to President Nicolas Maduro, whom the Trump administration is working to push out of office.
“For the last month (Citgo) has been developing contingency plans because of the risk that could be in place,” Palacios said. “I have to say, the flexibility of our refineries has allowed us to adjust to shock in a quite substantial way,” the Chronicle reported.
Palacios said Citgo, which operates refineries in Texas, Louisiana and Illinois, has been “a very important receiver” of Venezuelan crude, Kallanish Energy found. The company imported roughly 56 million barrels of Venezuelan crude in the first 10 months of 2018, according to U.S. Department of Energy data.
But Venezuelan oil only represents roughly 25% of Citgo’s total crude intake, Palacios said. Last year, Citgo’s refineries ran 60 different types of crude from 38 suppliers in 19 countries, she added, the Chronicle reported.
At first it was unclear whether Citgo would follow Guaido’s board, but the company officially now backs the new opposition-appointed corporate board, the Chronicle reported. The new board ousted pro-Maduro executives, including president Asdrubal Chavez, cousin of the late socialist leader and Maduro mentor Hugo Chavez.
Palacios, the first woman to lead Citgo’s board, said the new directors represent a diverse mix of executives with institutional knowledge of PDVSA from the days when it first bought Citgo in 1980s, and a newer generation with finance experience.
Palacios has a background in finance at companies such as Barclays Capital and Japan Bank for International Cooperation. Most recently she was senior managing director at the geopolitical analysis firm Medley Global Advisors.
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