New Chief for PDVSA's Troubled Western Division

Venezuela's energy and oil minister Rafael Ramirez has appointed Jose Luis Parada as head of state oil firm PDVSA's troubled western division, replacing Ricardo Coronado, company officials at its HQ in Maracaibo, Zulia state, confirmed for BNamericas.

According to PDVSA's own figures, the western division has consistently produced about 100,000b/d below its goal of 1Mb/d-plus.

In his new post, Parada will have to deal with international oil majors such as Chevron (NYSE: CVX) and Brazil's Petrobras (NYSE: PBR), which partner PDVSA in several projects in the region. Also he has received a mandate to double production by 2012 but, according to reports, lacks the natural gas to do so.

Theft at western division installations is so serious a problem that the military had to set up a special task force, Oro Negro (Black Gold), to deal with it.

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