July 12, 2018 / 9:57 PM / 2 years ago

Chevron taps geologist insider to head Brazil operations

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Chevron is seen at the company's office in Caracas, Venezuela April 25, 2018. REUTERS/Marco Bello/File Photo

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Chevron Corp has named Mariano Vela, a geologist with 20 years of experience at the U.S. oil major, to oversee its Brazil operations, the company told Reuters on Thursday, as it expands in Latin America’s top producer.

A letter seen by Reuters on Thursday and signed by former Brazil country manager Javier La Rosa on June 19 said Vela would take the reins in Brazil at the beginning of July. In an emailed statement, Chevron confirmed the appointment of Vela.

Chevron, which had global revenues of $135 billion in 2017, has been growing its presence in Brazil. In a consortium with Petroleo Brasileiro SA and Royal Dutch Shell Plc, it clinched its first block in Brazil’s coveted offshore pre-salt oil play last month.

The world’s top oil companies have spent billions in recent months amid rising oil prices and shrunken reserves to lock in access to the promising area, where billions of barrels of oil are trapped under a thick layer of salt beneath the ocean floor.

Vela joined Chevron in 1998 and studied geology in Argentina and the United States, Chevron said. Vela’s LinkedIn profile says he is Chevron’s Global Earth Science Sponsor based in Houston, Texas.

La Rosa was transferred to Venezuela as country manager in June after a two-year stint in Brazil, following the months-long detention in Venezuela of two Chevron executives.

La Rosa wrote in the letter, which was addressed to a recipient outside the company who declined to be named, that his tenure marked “a period of important restructuring and growth of our sector.”

“We are very enthusiastic about the five new blocks that we just acquired in the last two tenders,” he added.

Reporting by Alexandra Alper, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien

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