> Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro raised eyebrows when he installed a National Guard general to lead the rescue of PDVSA, the country's troubled state-owned oil company. Now Manuel Quevedo, a career military officer with no past experience in the oil industry, is raising even more doubts about his ability to revive PDVSA, after appointing other military officials to top posts there.
Reuters correspondent Alexandra Ulmer.>> Venezuela state oil company PDVSA has been dysfunctional for quite a few years. It hasn't had money, resources, proper investment, and it's been highly politicized. But sources within the company say that things have really taken a turn for the worse in the last year.
The new military officials have no idea how to run an oil company.>> Once one of the leading oil producers in the world, PDVSA has seen oil production levels plummet more that 20% since Quevedo took over. Threatening to worsen Venezuela's already dire economic crisis. And according to people within PDVSA, Quevedo has overseen an exodus of workers.
That's partly because salaries at the company are now worth the equivalent of a few dollars per month. And workers say tensions with the military managers are causing even more departures.>> And there's fear. There's fear among the workers that they're gonna be blamed if something goes wrong. And we've documented several cases of where workers have been arrested, accused of trying to purposefully sabotage the oil industry.
When it turns out, there was just infrastructure problems due to PDVSA's years of under investment.>> Quevedo has also been signing oil fuel agreements with little known companies, none of which are recognized as having any experience operating oil fields. The new contracts also run counter to efforts to nationalize the industry.
Hugo Chávez, himself, try to phase out such deals, arguing they enriched private companies for work the state should do. Yet Maduro's government shows few signs of displeasure. After all, PDVSA is still Maduro's crown jewel as it accounts for almost all of the country's exports revenue.