Venezuela’s CITGO to Provide Cheap Gas for U.S. Hospitals, Nursing Homes and Schools

10% of CITGO's refined oil products, to be sold directly to hospitals, nursing homes, schools and organized poor communities in U.S. soil.

Caracas, Venezuela. August 28, 2005 ( Rafael Ramirez, president of Venezuela’s oil company PDVSA, offered some details of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s offer to provide cheaper gasoline and heating oil to U.S. poor communities.

Speaking shortly after a press conference held by President Chavez and U.S. Reverend Jesse Jackson, Ramirez said that CITGO Petroleum Corp., the wholly owned subsidiary of PDVSA, is currently refining up to 664.000 barrels of oil through the refineries it owns and operates in the United States.

Venezuela is the world’s fifth largest oil exporter and the fourth largest supplier of oil to the United States. Venezuelan oil accounted for 12% of U.S. oil imports.

Ramirez said that under the Venezuelan government plan, CITGO will set aside up to 10% of its refined oil products to be sold directly to organized poor communities, and institutions in the U.S. without intermediaries.

The plan calls for the sale of heating oil and gasoline to hospitals, nursing homes, schools and organized poor communities in U.S. soil, according to Ramirez.

Other Venezuelan government officials, who asked not to be named, said that Venezuela will not lose any money with this program because the idea is to "cut the middle-man", the intermediaries.

Ramirez said the beneficiaries will see a price reduction of about 30%.

Ramirez, who is also Venezuela’s Minister of Oil and Energy, denied that Reverend Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow/PUSH Coalition would be the recipient of the cheaper oil.

The Minister said Reverend Jackson’s organization could help Venezuela identify those who are in need, but that they will not be the recipients of the products.

Ramirez was confident the program will be implemented before the U.S. winter begins.

CITGO Petroleum Corp. owns and operates eight refineries in the United States.

It is unclear how the CITGO gas will reach the consumers, as CITGO does not own any of the 14.000 CITGO-branded gas stations operating in U.S. territory through franchising.

"Impact on seven to eight million persons"

“There is a lot of poverty in the U.S. and I don’t believe that reflects the American Way of Life. Many people die of cold in the winter. Many die of heat in the summer,” said Chavez on Sunday during his weekly TV show, explaining why Venezuela was interested in providing discounted heating oil to the U.S. poor.

“We could have an impact on seven to eight million persons,” Chavez added.

Venezuela’s ambassador to the U.S. Bernardo Alvarez, had told Chavez that the embassy in Washington DC has already received over 140 requests about the plan, even though it has not been formally announced yet.

Venezuela also plans to provide free surgery for certain eye conditions for U.S. poor.

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