Ending past November, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro brandishing the flag of the fight against corruption appointed Major General Manuel Quevedo as Minister of Petroleum and President of PDVSA, a member of the army who performed as Minister of Housing of this country and without any technical experience in the energy and industrial field.
Quevedo arrives to replace Eulogio del Pino (former oil minister with almost 30 years of experience in the Venezuelan oil industry) and Nelson Martínez (former president of PDVSA with 37 years in the organization), both accused of alleged acts of corruption in a very complex social, energetic and political environment in Venezuela. Some sectors of the Venezuelan politics opposition affirm that the changes of PDVSA executives respond to a power struggle between political sectors of the ruling party.
The operational crisis in PDVSA is evident: Last December, the company reported the lowest oil production in the last 30 years, the resignations of qualified personnel are almost daily and in all areas of the corporation, there are multimillionaires debts with suppliers and scarce resources.
As historical precedent, Venezuelan Petrochemical Company (Pequiven), also dependent on the Venezuelan executive, was intervened in January 2017. As if it were a script to follow, President Maduro himself ordered the intervention of Pequiven and placed political and military actors in the direction of this company. Just one year later, the deterioration of the Venezuelan petrochemical industry is evident and its situation is very similar to that of PDVSA: Petrochemical complexes completely out of service, operating plants with major maintenance outdated, resignations of qualified personnel and lack of supplies in all areas.
To date, only legal and investigative actions have been taken to determine responsibilities for alleged acts of corruption within PDVSA. The evident lack of technical knowledge in the energy and petrochemical fields of the new Minister /President and part of his team, the duality of roles exercised by him as the head of the state’s highest regulator and president of the most important operating company in Venezuela, as well as precedents in Pequiven do not make clear the course of the Venezuelan oil, gas and petrochemical industry thirty days after the appointment of Major General Quevedo.
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