Venezuela's PDVSA trading chief leaves as exports fall, fuel shortages grow

A state oil company PDVSA's logo is seen at a gas station in Caracas, Venezuela May 17, 2019. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado

CARACAS (Reuters) - The top trade and supply official at Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA has left the post, according to a recent copy of the government’s official gazette, as the OPEC nation’s crude exports fall after U.S. sanctions and gasoline supplies dry up.

Jose Rojas Reyes, who was named vice president of trade and supply last October, is no longer on PDVSA’s board of directors, according to a decree in the gazette dated June 12. Marcos Rojas, who remains vice president of international affairs, has assumed the role on an interim basis.

Rojas Reyes’ departure comes as PDVSA, which was already reeling from corruption, mismanagement and underinvestment, was hit this year by Washington-imposed sanctions preventing U.S. companies from importing Venezuelan oil, part of the Trump administration’s effort to oust socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

The company’s exports of crude and refined products fell 17%in May from the previous month to 874,500 barrels per day. A plunge in gasoline imports due to the sanctions, coupled with severe refinery outages, have forced motorists to wait hours or even days to fill their tanks.

Neither PDVSA nor Venezuela’s oil ministry immediately responded to a request for comment. Reuters was unable to reach Rojas Reyes.

Manuel Quevedo, a National Guard general who also serves as Venezuela’s oil minister, remains as chairman of PDVSA, according to the decree.

Critics say PDVSA has done little to stem the fall in production since Quevedo’s 2017 appointment ushered in a new era of military rule at the firm.

Rojas is also a National Guard general and previously held jobs at the Defense Ministry and the Housing Ministry, which Quevedo led before his surprise appointment to lead PDVSA.

Reporting by Luc Cohen; Editing by Bill Berkrot