October 18, 2018 / 1:15 AM / 9 months ago

Venezuela shakes up PDVSA management as oil production tanks: sources

FILE PHOTO: A man walks past the corporate logo of the state oil company PDVSA at a gas station in Caracas, Venezuela December 1, 2017. REUTERS/Marco Bello/File Photo

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela is tapping at least five new top executives to state oil company PDVSA, six sources said on Wednesday, but the changes are unlikely to halt the unraveling of the OPEC member’s oil industry under military management.

The new executives are relative unknowns in the energy sector, with at least one of the appointees hailing from the military, according to industry sources briefed on the shake-up. PDVSA President Manuel Quevedo, a general under whom production has fallen to a six-decade low since he was appointed late last year, was ratified, however.

PDVSA is under pressure from a major cash crunch that has stymied investments, a brain drain that is depriving it of engineers, and a new military management that has clashed with workers.

Leftist President Nicolas Maduro put the company under military management in what he said was a bid to rid it of corruption and inefficiencies.

Two sources said the changes had been made earlier on Wednesday. There was no official comment, however, and neither PDVSA nor the Information Ministry responded to a request for comment.

Among Maduro’s latest changes to the company, Nelson Ferrer, an engineer who was one of the few executives who survived a sweep of detentions at PDVSA last year, was removed as the head of the exploration and production, the sources said. He was replaced by Miguel Quintana, previously vice-president for planning and engineering at PDVSA, but whom two of the sources said was an architect by training.

A general from the National Guard, Jose Rojas, was tapped to lead PDVSA’s trade and supply department. Rojas previously held jobs at the Defense Ministry and the Housing Ministry, which Quevedo led before surprisingly being appointed to lead PDVSA.

Additional reporting by Deisy Buitrago in Caracas and Marianna Parraga in Mexico City; Writing by Alexandra Ulmer; editing by Grant McCool

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