VENEZUELA AGAINST CORRUPTION
REUTERS - Venezuela's president on Sunday created an executive vice president post and named new vice presidents to lead PDVSA in what he described as a shake-up of the state oil company and an effort to root out corruption in the OPEC nation's principal industry.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro kept Eulogio Del Pino as PDVSA president but created a new post of executive vice president while naming vice presidents in areas including finance and exploration.
PDVSA has been dogged for years by corruption ranging from lucrative smuggling of heavily subsidized fuel to kickbacks and bribery that led to prosecution of U.S.-based contractors who did business with the company.
"We have to clean out the corruption that has incubated in (the oil industry), I call on the oil workers to forcefully defeat corruption," Maduro said in his weekly broadcast.
"That's why I have asked Eulogio del Pino ... to lead this new leadership team and focus one hundred percent on the industry this year."
Leadership changes at PDVSA in recent years have not significantly altered the company's management style, which has been characterized by heavy social spending, slumping crude production, and chronic payment disputes with suppliers.
Maribel Parra, who Maduro identified as a rear admiral in the armed forces, takes up the newly created post of executive vice president.
The new finance vice president is Simon Zerpa, who has led a bilateral Venezuela-China fund through which Caracas has borrowed billions of dollars from Beijing that it repays in oil and fuel shipments.
Venezuela is battling triple-digit inflation and a severe recession as a result of low oil prices and an unraveling socialist economic system, leaving millions of citizens struggling to eat and waiting for hours in supermarket lines.
Maduro says his government is a victim of an "economic war" led by his adversaries.
Corruption at PDVSA was put on display in U.S. courts last year when businessmen Roberto Rincon and Abraham Shiera pleaded guilty to violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by paying bribes to PDVSA officials to secure energy contracts.
Former PDVSA employees also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering. The company at the time described the charges as a smear campaign against it.
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REUTERS - Brent crude futures LCOc1 were down 72 cents at $61.49 per barrel at 1020 GMT, having fallen by 1.5 percent on Tuesday, its largest one-day drop in a month. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 was at $55.12 per barrel, down 58 cents.
BLOOMBERG - Prices dropped during the session as the International Energy Agency said the recent recovery in oil prices, coupled with milder-than-normal winter weather, is slowing demand growth. The worsening outlook for consumption dampened some of the enthusiasm that OPEC and its allies will extend supply curbs.
Global energy needs rise more slowly than in the past but still expand by 30% between today and 2040. This is the equivalent of adding another China and India to today’s global demand.
Product exports have grown significantly over the past several years and are expected to continue to grow as Russian refineries add capacity to produce more high-quality products.