Citgo Petroleum said it will keep its headquarters in Houston, warding off speculation that it was considering moving its executive hub to the Caribbean.
The Venezuelan refiner confirmed it is maintaining its Houston home after its new president and CEO, Asdrúbal Chávez, a cousin of the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, arrived in Houston last week to attend his first meetings. But Citgo at first would not address the potential headquarters change.
The CEO change came amid the company's ongoing controversies regarding the arrests of the company's previous leadership team in Venezuela late last year. Citgo is a subsidiary of the state oil company in Venezuela, which is mired in economic and political turmoil.
Chávez was installed as the new president at the end of November by current Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. Earlier in November, the Venezuelan government swept up much of the previous Citgo leadership team, most of whom are dual American citizens living in the Houston area, on embezzlement and corruption charges. The moves are widely seen as an effort by Maduro to further consolidate power. Those arrested remain in custody.
Argus Media reported last week week that Citgo was considering moving its headquarters from Houston to Aruba, where Citgo also has a refinery. However, Maduro recently cut off ties temporarily with Aruba and some other neighboring Caribbean nations because of concerns about smugglers.
Chávez, a chemical engineer, plans to unveil his vision for the future of the company over the coming months, Citgo said. Chávez also is a politician and former Venezuelan oil minister.
Citgo is a U.S. company with a more than 100-year history that was acquired by Venezuela's state-run oil company nearly 30 years ago. Citgo now acts as the U.S. refining and gasoline marketing arm of Venezuela.
Citgo employs about 4,000 people in the U.S., including more than 800 in Houston. The company has roughly 160 branded gas stations in the Houston area, and about 5,500 nationwide. Citgo owns oil refineries in Corpus Christi, Lake Charles, Louisiana, and Illinois.