Venezuela's Presidents Duel Over Citgo, the Crown Jewel of PDVSA

(Bloomberg) -- Venezuela’s acting president, Juan Guaido, is preparing to do battle for the crown jewel of PDVSA’s assets: Control of Citgo Petroleum Corp., a Houston-based refiner that helps to bankroll the government of Nicolas Maduro.

Guaido said in a Friday news conference that he’s ready to name a new board for Citgo, replacing executives appointed by Maduro, who the U.S. government no longer recognizes as the country’s rightful leader. Guaido also said he plans to dismiss Manuel Quevedo, the oil minister and president of Petroleos de Venezuela SA, the state-run oil company.

Venezuela's Presidents Duel Over Citgo, the Crown Jewel of PDVSA
Venezuela's Presidents Duel Over Citgo, the Crown Jewel of PDVSA

In a competing news conference in Caracas, Maduro vowed to defend Citgo. His government has used the company as collateral for debts issued by PDVSA, including a $1.5 billion loan from Rosneft that’s backed by a 49.9 percent stake in the U.S. refiner. While Citgo can’t send money to Venezuela after the U.S. imposed financial sanctions in Aug. 2017, it remains the largest buyer of Venezuelan oil.

Venezuela's Presidents Duel Over Citgo, the Crown Jewel of PDVSA

The U.S. is focused on disconnecting Maduro from sources of revenue and channeling those resources to Guaido, National Security Adviser John Bolton told Fox News on Thursday. In the U.S., Citgo’s three Gulf Coast refineries have the capacity to process about 760,000 barrels of oil a day. The Lake Charles facility in Louisiana is PDVSA’s largest refinery outside of Venezuela.

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