February 24 (Reuters) – Venezuelan state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela has appointed an army lieutenant colonel with no apparent industry experience as vice president of its supply and trade division, according to two people familiar with the appointment.
The move comes after the company, known as PDVSA, asked several vice presidents to step down following a shakeup announced last week, when socialist president Nicolas Maduro appointed a commission led by vice president of economics Tareck El Aissami to restructure the sector.
The company, struggling under the intensification of U.S. sanctions, aimed to chase Maduro by appointing Antonio Perez Suarez to head the supply and trade division. Perez previously led Productive Venezuela, a state-owned distributor of locally made products.
The supply and trade role will present significant challenges for PDVSA after the United States sanctioned Rosneft Trading last week, a unit of the Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft that became the main intermediary of Venezuelan crude oil after Washington sanctioned PDVSA at early 2019.
PDVSA did not officially announce the change internally or externally, and it was not immediately clear whether the appointment was permanent or a temporary measure until the Maduro commission made recommendations, people said.
Neither PDVSA nor the oil ministry immediately responded to requests for comment Monday, which is a national holiday in Venezuela due to Carnival celebrations.
The company’s head of international affairs, Marcos Rojas, who ran the Supply and Trade division, will now have oversight authority over that unit, sources said, adding that Rojas will remain vice president of international affairs.
Last June, Rojas took over the vice chairmanship of provisional supply and trade. (Report by Marianna Parraga in Mexico City Additional report by Luc Cohen and Deisy Buitrago in Caracas Written by Luc Cohen Edited by Marguerita Choy)