April 28, 2017 / 3:21 PM / a year ago

Venezuela names Pereira interim president of U.S. refiner Citgo

CARACAS, April 28 (Reuters) - Venezuela has promoted Jose Pereira to interim president of Citgo, the U.S. refining and marketing unit of the nation’s state oil company PDVSA, the government said in its Official Gazette on Friday.

Pereira, who was formerly Citgo’s vice president of finance, replaces Nelson Martinez, who was named Venezuela’s oil minister in January.

Citgo owns three refineries and a network of terminals and pipelines in the United States.

PDVSA’s use of Citgo assets to guarantee financial transactions, including a 2016 bond swap and a loan from Russian oil company Rosneft, has generated controversy both in Venezuela and in the United States.

Since last year, Citgo has increased the supply of crude and fuel to PDVSA through its Citgo LDC Supply International subsidiary, helping Venezuela get the fuel it needs amid low output at its domestic refining network.

Critics of President Nicolas Maduro say his government is pawning state assets without the permission of the legislature. A group of U.S. senators expressed concern this month that the Rosneft operation with Citgo might help Russia gain ownership over energy infrastructure in the United States.

Venezuelan officials have defended the operation as transparent and legal. (Reporting by Corina Pons; Writing by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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