Venezuelan authorities have arrested the president and two other officials in a corruption investigation at state oil company PDVSA’s Sinovensa joint venture with China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC).
The three detainees, in the latest round-up in the struggling and graft-plagued oil sector, are Venezuelan. The detention of Sinovensa President Alberto Bockh in eastern Anzoategui state has been confirmed. It was unclear what the precise accusations were against him and the other two detained Sinovensa employees.
Sinovensa had started an expansion project to boost output to 165,000 barrels per day (bpd), President Nicolas Maduro said in August, from a current capacity of 110,000 bpd.
Owned by PDVSA subsidiary Venezuelan Petroleum Corp with CNPC, Sinovensa produces extra-heavy Orinoco crude and blends it with lighter oil to produce medium-grade Merey. Blended crude grades are widely sought in Asian markets, where PDVSA is increasingly sending its crude production following US sanctions that have effectively halted sales of Venezuela oil to the US market.
Opposition leaders say PDVSA has been crippled by malfeasance under two decades of socialist rule, with sporadic arrests more the result of infighting among rival factions than a real effort to root out corruption.
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