(Recasts to lead on naming of new chief executive; adds details, context)
CARACAS, July 17 (Reuters) - U.S. refiner Citgo Petroleum Corp said on Friday it had named Edgar Rincon, a former executive of oil services firm Nabors Industries who has been on Citgo’s board since last year, as chief operating officer and executive vice president.
The move comes a week after Citgo, a subsidiary of Venezuelan state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela that has been controlled by the country’s opposition since Washington sanctioned PDVSA last year, named its chief executive, Carlos Jorda, to its board of directors.
Rincon will replace Rick Esser, one of the last remaining senior executives who had been with the company before the opposition took over, as executive vice president. Esser will become vice president of strategic projects and continue reporting to Jorda, a Citgo spokesperson told Reuters.
Jorda had replaced Esser on the board. Citgo said at the time that Esser would remain as executive vice president.
Venezuelan opposition-held National Assembly - whose leader, Juan Guaido, is recognized as the country’s rightful president by dozens of countries including the United States who argue socialist President Nicolas Maduro rigged his 2018 re-election - named its own board to the company last year.
Several creditors are seeking to seize shares in Citgo’s parent company as repayment for debts or arbitration awards owed by PDVSA or Venezuela’s government. The U.S. Treasury, which enforces sanctions, earlier this week extended a measure protecting Citgo from creditors through October.
“The domestic legitimacy of the interim government under Guaido would be severely eroded were a forced sale of CITGO to take place,” Elliott Abrams, the U.S. State Department special envoy for Venezuela, wrote in a July 16 letter to the Justice Department in a court case related to Canadian gold miner Crystallex’s efforts.
Maduro calls Guaido a U.S. puppet and has accused him of seeking to “steal” Citgo. (Reporting by Luc Cohen Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Marguerita Choy)