By Alexandra Ulmer and Deisy Buitrago
Venezuela has offered the presidency of state oil company PDVSA to Oil Minister Nelson Martinez, three sources with knowledge of the situation said on Tuesday, a move seen as heralding little if any change for the OPEC nation’s struggling energy industry.
The three people, two PDVSA sources and one industry source, asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Martinez, an industry veteran who is close to President Nicolas Maduro, used to run U.S.-based refiner Citgo Petroleum Corp. He was named oil minister in January and sources say he has gradually been accumulating more clout in Venezuela’s oil industry.
Rumors have been rife inside Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., better known as PDVSA, and in the wider oil sector that company President Eulogio del Pino would depart soon and be replaced by Martinez.
Some foreign executives and investors had feared that Maduro would replace Del Pino, a Stanford-educated engineer, with a political or military official.
Martinez, however, is respected for his leadership of Citgo and decades of experience in the oil sector.
The Wall Street Journal reported last week Del Pino was going to be a candidate in Maduro’s controversial new constituent assembly.
PDVSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment. (Reporting by Girish Gupta and Alexandra Ulmer; additional reporting by Marianna Parraga; Editing by Richard Chang and Tom Brown)