Chavez in heating oil about-face

Venezuelan oil giant Citgo decides to continue the program two days after it was put on hold.

EMAIL  |   PRINT  |   SHARE  |   RSS
 
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all CNNMoney.com RSS FEEDS (close)
By Ben Rooney, CNNMoney.com staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Venezuela's Citgo Petroleum said Wednesday that it has reinstated a program that provides discounted home heating oil to lower-income residents in U.S. communities, two days after it was suspended.

"Our flagship social program, the Citgo-Venezuela Heating Oil Program will continue," said Citgo Chairman Alejandro Granado in a statement.

Granado said the decision to continue the program was in response to "the current global financial crisis and its impact on the oil industry in general."

On Monday, the program was put on hold so that Citgo could re-evaluate its social programs in light of the global economic slowdown and falling oil prices.

The abrupt reinstatement of the program appears to have come at the behest of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.

"Evidence of this is that President Chávez wanted all necessary efforts made to ensure the continuation of the program, so that its recipients will not be disappointed," said Joseph Kennedy, chairman of Citizens Energy Corporation, the non-profit company that oversees the program.

The joint program drew its share of skeptics when it began in 2005. Some accused Chávez - a frequent U.S. critic who called President Bush "the devil" in a 2006 U.N. speech - of using the heating oil program as a public-relations tool for his country.

However, Kennedy said the decision to continue the program reflects Chavez's "genuine concern for the most vulnerable, regardless of where they may live."

"This decision is a clear, direct message from President Chávez of his desire to strengthen relations between his country and the United States, particularly at this time, when a new U.S. administration is scheduled to be sworn-in within the next few weeks," Kennedy added.

The program provides fuel for 200,000 households in 23 states, according to Citgo.

An earlier version of this story misstated the day that Citgo suspended its program. CNNMoney.com regrets the error.  To top of page

Features
They're hiring!These Fortune 100 employers have at least 350 openings each. What are they looking for in a new hire? More
If the Fortune 500 were a country...It would be the world's second-biggest economy. See how big companies' sales stack up against GDP over the past decade. More
Sponsored By:
More Galleries
These 10 food trends could dominate 2015 So long, kale. Here's what's expected to shake up the food industry next year. More
Beyond Russia: Geopolitical hot spots in 2015 Investors beware: These 5 global crises are likely to rattle the stock market and world economy. More
These 20 antique guns could fetch big bucks Morphy Auctions in Pennsylvania is putting nearly 1,000 old guns on the block. Here are just a few. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.