Venezuela Names New PDVSA Unit Chief

Venezuela's Deputy Oil Minister Luis Vierma has been named chief of a newly expanded division of state oil firm PDVSA in charge of partnerships with foreign oil companies, PDVSA said on Sunday. Vierma will head Corporacion Venezolana del Petroleo (CVP), whose role in PDVSA was expanded this month to cover all of the company's joint ventures.

Foreign companies work with PDVSA in exploration risk contracts, operating agreements and strategic associations in deals signed during the 1990s when the government opened the oil sector to outside investment. CVP had previously handled exploration risk sharing contracts, and other PDVSA divisions ran the remaining joint ventures.

The government has been restructuring PDVSA this year following a crippling oil strike in December and January that was aimed at removing President Hugo Chavez. PDVSA fired more than 18,000 employees, about half its work force, for joining the strike and used troops and loyal replacement workers to restart the oil sector.