CITGO Responds

Company president calls CSP story misleading, offers reply

Published in CSP Daily News

HOUSTON -- Responding to the cover story of the October issue of CSP Magazine, CITGO president and CEO Felix Rodriguez defended the company's gasoline supply and retail programs, calling the story's headline -- CITGO or CITGone? -- misleading.

In a letter to CSP group editor Mitch Morrison, Rodriguez said, The title of the story, we feel, is very misleading. CITGO Petroleum Corporation is not going away. In fact, this year marked the 40th anniversary of the CITGO brand, a fact that we are extremely proud of.

The cover story, subtitled [image-nocss] Venezuelan instability sparks uncertainly at fifth-largest U.S. refiner-marketer, outlined what many of the company insiders and retailers perceived to be a marketing sluggishness coming from Houston-based CITGO leadership. One former CITGO executive who retired earlier this fall and declined to be identified confirmed that marketing activity is in limbo and the recent Gulf Coast hurricanes have only exacerbated that situation. No one's thinking about marketing at this point, he told CSP Daily News. They're working on securing supply and [handling] allotments.

CITGO officials were cooperative with CSP as the story was put together and responded to all key issues raised. But in his letter, Rodriguez said the CSP story presented a negative cover [with] repeated attempts to draw negative conclusions, despite presenting many positives about CITGO and our marketing efforts.

We do not feel that we have been treated fairly by your magazine, he wrote. Additionally, you forgot to mention that with the backing of our shareholder, Venezuelan state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, CITGO has access to the largest oil reserves in the Western Hemisphere. This makes us a reliable supplier with a demonstrated commitment to the U.S. marketplace.

It's a view CITGO marketers appreciate, as suggested by Bill McKnight, president of Automated Petroleum on Tampa, Fla. As long as [CITGO's] terminals are full and the price is good, that's all that matters, he told CSP Daily News as Hurricane Wilma was making its way across southern Florida. And their terminals have been full and they've been priced right.

Thus Rodriguez summarized, We provide the top-quality products consumers need. We focus on the independent marketer. We give those marketers the best service in the industry. That was the key to our success 40 years ago and is the philosophy that we will live by.

The only place that CITGO Petroleum Corporation is going it ahead, and we look forward to taking our marketers along with us.

See the complete story in the October issue of CSP or e-mail a request for a pdf of the story to cspinquire@cspnet.com.