Oil report

UPDATE 2-Citgo Petroleum's Palacios to step down as chairwoman

(Adds Citgo no comment on replacement, CEO joined board)

HOUSTON, Sept 29 (Reuters) - Citgo Petroleum Corp’s Luisa Palacios will step down as chairwoman of the board of the eighth-largest U.S. oil refiner on Oct. 30, according to a statement on its website.

Palacios, who joined the company in February, 2019, when it named a board of directors independent of Venezuelan state oil firm, PDVSA, will remain a director, according to the statement. She could not be immediately reached for comment.

Citgo did not say who would replace Palacios as chair, and a spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment.

The Houston-based company in July named Chief Executive Carlos Jorda and two outside executives to its board.

The U.S.-based refiner is owned by Venezuela, but its leadership split with the government of President Nicolas Maduro, whose 2018 reelection was widely denounced as a sham. Maduro retains control of the Venezuelan military and PDVSA.

Palacios’ departure comes as other officials aligned with Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido have resigned their posts. Luis Pacheco, chairman of the PDVSA board aligned with the opposition, and Jose Ignacio Hernandez, the Venezuelan opposition’s overseas legal representative, both resigned earlier this year.

“Leading the Citgo entities for the last 20 months has been a true honor,” Palacios said in a statement.

The Citgo board has made “significant progress” on its initial aims to improve corporate governance, strengthen Citgo’s balance sheet and address its legal challenges stemming from its split with PDVSA, she wrote.

Venezuela’s National Assembly, the only standing elected body in Venezuela, which Guaido led when he appointed Palacios, Pacheco and Hernandez last year, will see its term expire in January. The opposition does not recognize Venezuela’s electoral council and there are no elections planned. (Reporting by Gary McWilliams in Houston and Marianna Parraga in Mexico City; Editing by Richard Pullin)