August 25, 2017 / 1:05 AM / in a year

Venezuela's Maduro swaps oil minister and PDVSA president

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Thursday named Oil Minister Nelson Martinez as the head of state oil company PDVSA while tapping PDVSA chief Eulogio Del Pino to be the oil minister.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro talks to the media during a news conference at Miraflores Palace in Caracas, Venezuela August 22, 2017. REUTERS/Marco Bello

Cabinet changes are routine in Venezuela, which is struggling under the collapse of a socialist economy amid low oil prices. The changes rarely bring new faces to the government and typically have little effect on public policy.

Maduro said Del Pino will help drive forward negotiations among producer nations to strengthen energy markets.

“Eulogio is the architect of the OPEC/non-OPEC agreements. Soon we will have a set of trips with respect to that,” Maduro said during a televised broadcast, referring to deals negotiated by oil-producing nations since last year to boost prices.

He said Del Pino should lead efforts to convene “a summit of OPEC and non-OPEC nations to create an agreement for the stabilization of prices.”

Maduro urged Martinez to cut unnecessary expenditures at PDVSA and push forward with an energy plan drawn up by the company’s workers.

“Twenty-four hours per day, Nelson,” Maduro said. “Boost oil production, improve national refining capacity, continue strengthening alliances with the 40 international companies that are working in the Orinoco Belt.

Despite controlling the world’s largest oil reserves, PDVSA is struggling with declining crude output, decaying refineries and limited cash flow resulting from heavy subsidies to domestic fuel sales.

Maduro says Venezuela is victim of an “economic war” and has accused the United States, which has for years been an ideological adversary, of orchestrating the 2014 collapse in crude prices.

Reporting by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Sandra Maler and Leslie Adler

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