Venezuelan Government and CITGO Launch Low-Cost Heating Oil Program in Delaware

State homeless shelters and 20,000 people in Delaware will benefit from more than 1 million gallons of oil provided by CITGO under Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's heating oil assistance program.

Wilmington, DE. Feb 14, 2006.– Venezuelan Ambassador to the U.S. Bernardo Alvarez, CITGO Petroleum Corporation C.E.O Felix Rodriguez and Citizens Energy Corporation Chairman Joseph P. Kennedy, rolled out today the Venezuelan heating oil program for low and modest-income residents in Delaware.

The program, brokered between Venezuelan-owned CITGO, the non-profit Citizens Energy Corporation of Boston and Delaware’s Catholic Charities, will be available to 20,000 low income residents in Delaware. The government of Venezuela, which owns CITGO through its national oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), will make 1 million gallons of heating oil available at a 40 percent discount off of wholesale market price. Homeless shelters in the state will receive an additional 150,000 gallons of fuel free as part of the program.

“What we are doing here in Delaware, reaching out to help low-income people, is consistent with what our Venezuelan government is trying to do at home with social programs that have taught 1.5 million adults to read and given access to health care to more than 10 million Venezuelans. The poor of Venezuela has the same face of the poor in the rest of the world; our goal at home and abroad is to improve the lives of people who have historically been left behind,” said Alvarez.

CITGO’s CEO Felix Rodriguez cited the program as in part a humanitarian response to recent weather events in the United States.

CITGO Petroleum, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Venezuela’s oil company PDVSA, is the only oil corporation in the United States to respond to calls by U.S. Lawmakers for energy corporations making record profits to help poor communities in the face of rising energy costs.

“After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita left this country paying record fuel prices, oil companies were asked to help Americans in need. We are happy to respond, by offering people here in Delaware help this winter,” said Rodriguez.

“We have heard horror stories of families forced to heat their homes with their stoves because they have no money for heating oil. No one should be forced to sacrifice food, shelter or medicine to stay warm,” he added.

The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, working through Catholic Charities, will oversee distribution of the Venezuelan heating oil in Delaware under contract with nonprofit Citizens Energy.

Today’s ceremony was held at the Martha House II, a Wilmington homeless shelter that provides transitional housing for families and children. The contract for Delaware oil deliveries was signed by Citizens Energy Chairman Kennedy and CITGO CEO Rodriguez.

"We’re proud to work with CITGO and our Delaware partners to help needy families make it through the tough winter months. At a time that federal fuel assistance benefits are shrinking, CITGO has stepped forward to strengthen the heating safety net for our most vulnerable families," said former Congressman Kennedy.

Citizens Energy and Kennedy have arranged for discounted Venezuelan oil to be distributed through CITGO throughout the northeastern United States this winter after the initial program was arranged by Congressman Bill Delahunt of Boston, Mass. Delaware is the seventh state to participate in the program. Other states include Maine, Southeast Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and the Bronx neighborhood in New York City.

Local community leaders present at the ceremony applauded the initiative. “The Venezuela-CITGO Oil Heat Program will help extend a lifeline to families in need" said the Rev. Dr. Christopher Allen Bullock, pastor of Wilmington’s Canaan Baptist Church.