President and Chief Executive Officer
Nelson Martínez graduated with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry (1973) and a master’s degree in physical chemistry (1974) from France’s University of Poitiers. He subsequently obtained a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Reading in the United Kingdom in 1978 and a master’s degree in technology management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1993. Additionally, he has pursued management studies at Michigan and Harvard universities and at the nonprofit research institute, SRI International, in California.
Martínez began his career with Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA) in 1980 at Intevep, the PDVSA Research and Development arm. Here, he gained experience in the development of catalysts and process technology. In 1987, he was appointed head of the catalysis section and for four years, beginning in 1990, he managed the refining processes development department at PDVSA Intevep.
In 1995, he was named leader of the technology management corporate group, a part of the PDVSA strategic planning coordination. In 1995, he was appointed manager of the PDVSA-Intevep planning function and developed strategic plans for the production of gasoline types with low sulfur content and other technology business plans related to heavy oil conversion and catalysts development.
From March 2000 to December 2002, he held the position of deputy manager of the refining and petrochemicals general division and also served as the designated team manager of new business developments.
In December 2002, he became managing director of refining at PDVSA Oriente, in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela, with responsibility for all refinery operations. He also led the restoration of refining and transportation operations for crude oil and fuels in eastern Venezuela following the 2002 interruption.
In July 2003, he was appointed director of Petróleos de Venezuela and general manager of exploration and production in Eastern Venezuela. Beginning February 2004, he served as a director with the oversight of trade and supply, maintaining his responsibilities as president of the PDVSA Gas and Bitor subsidiaries.
From March 2005 until July 2006, he was managing director of PDVSA-UK in London. On his return to Venezuela, he worked as advisor to PDVSA America and in February 2007, he was appointed managing director of PDVSA Ecuador. In August of that year, he was appointed executive director of PDVSA America, with responsibility for all activities and projects in South America, in support of bilateral energy security treaties and joint ventures with state enterprises in the energy sector.
As part of his most recent duties as a Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA) executive, Martínez has been executive director of PDVSA America, and was appointed managing director of PDVSA Argentina on May 30, 2011. He held this position until his appointment to CITGO on May 23, 2013.
Other accolades for Martínez include membership in the New York Academy of Sciences (1994) for his contributions to the study of catalysts in hydro treatment and catalytic cracking and several awards for research undertaken in the field of process technologies and catalysts. He also holds more than 50 international patents and papers in his field of work.
Vice President, Refining
Eduardo Assef started his career in the oil refining industry in Venezuela in 1985 with PDVSA.
Assef holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Universidad de Carabobo (Venezuela) and received his master’s degree in oil refining, gas and petrochemicals with the French Petroleum Institute and the Universidad Metropolitana.
At PDVSA, Assef held several positions of increasing responsibility in the areas of project, maintenance, process engineering and operations. In 1999 he was transferred to CITGO’s Corpus Christi Refinery, where he held positions in the technical and operational areas. In October 2004, he was appointed general manager, operations and maintenance at the Corpus Christi Refinery. In April 2006, he became vice president and general manager, Corpus Christi Refinery. He was appointed vice president and general manager, Lake Charles Manufacturing Complex in November 2008. And in December 2011, he was appointed Vice President Refining.
Vice President and General Manager, Lake Charles Manufacturing Complex
Tomeu Vadell was named Vice President of the CITGO Lake Charles Refinery on November 5, 2012.
Tomeu has over thirty (30) years of professional experience in the refining and petrochemical industry. During his thirteen-year tenure at the CITGO Lake Charles Refinery, Tomeu has occupied several positions in the technical and operations departments, including Area Operations Manager; Strategic Planning and Capital Projects Manager, Major Projects Manager, and, most recently, General Manager of Engineering and Technical Services.
Before moving to Lake Charles, Tomeu worked for PDVSA (Petróleos de Venezuela) in Puerto La Cruz and El Palito refineries, occupying positions related to engineering and capital projects.
He holds a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from Universidad Metropolitana in Caracas, Venezuela and a master’s degree in industrial and management engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.
Vice President and General Manager, Lemont Refinery
Jim Cristman joined CITGO in 1980 and held various positions at the Lemont refinery, including operations manager and operations central services manager, before becoming vice president and general manager in 2008. Prior to joining CITGO, he served in various operations positions at UNO-VEN, including training manager and manager of crude processing. He also served as a member of the executive committee for the Needle Coker Company from 1993 to 1999.
Vice President and General Manager, Corpus Christi Refinery
Art joined the Lemont Refinery in 1981 and has held various roles including Project Engineering Manager, Asset Area Manager-Special Projects, and Manager Area Operations-Crude Processing. He transferred to the Corpus Christi Refinery to serve as General Manager Tech and Administrative Services in 2009, and was named General Manager Operations and Maintenance in 2013. Art has a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois. Art became Vice President and General Manager, Corpus Christi Refinery, on September 1, 2015.
Vice President, Supply and Marketing
Rick Esser has more than 24 years of CITGO experience. He holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Keller Graduate School of Management and a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Management from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Rick has held several positions in Supply and Marketing including: General Manager Pricing, General Manager Product Supply and Trading and General Manager of Crude Supply and Marine Transportation. Most recently, Rick served CITGO as Assistant Vice President of Supply and Marketing.
Vice President Finance
José Pereira holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Universidad de Oriente in Venezuela (1985) and a master’s degree from the same university (FUNDAUDO). Additionally, he pursued international taxation studies at Santiago de Compostela University in Spain.
Pereira has more than 28 years of financial expertise in the oil and gas industry. He began his career in 1985 at Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA) affiliate Corpoven. Throughout his career, Pereira has held various senior level financial roles, including finance manager for various PDVSA joint ventures, such as Pequiven’s Superoctanos, and PDVSA joint ventures with the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), and Japan’s Teikoku Oil Ltd. He was also downstream and upstream comptroller and treasurer for Petrolera Ameriven (Hamaca Project; an extra-heavy crude upgrader).
Pereira was finance manager of PDVSA PetroMonagas and PDVSA PetroPiar, two Faja upgrader projects, and finance manager of the PDVSA Faja Division.
In March, 2010, Pereira was appointed corporate finance manager for Corporación Venezolana del Petróleo (CVP), under PDVSA Petróleo, S.A. CVP is the holding of 44 oil and gas joint ventures for light, medium, heavy and extra heavy oil projects in Venezuela. Pereira was promoted to chief financial officer of PDVSA Petróleo, S.A. in April, 2013. He held this role until being appointed to his current position with CITGO, which he has held since Oct. 15, 2013.
Vice President, Legal Affairs
Armando joined CITGO with 25 years of experience in legal affairs. He began working for Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA) in 2005 as general counsel of PDVSA and its main affiliates. Prior to joining PDVSA, Armando worked for several other institutions, including the Venezuelan Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, and the Venezuelan Ministry of Interior and Justice. Additionally, he began teaching law at UCAB and Universidad Central de Venezuela in 1997 and has published a number of papers and articles.
Armando holds a law degree from Universidad Católica Andrés Bello (UCAB) in Caracas (1989) and has completed specialization studies in constitutional law and political science at Centro de Estudios Constitucionales in Madrid, Spain, and administrative law at UCAB.
Vice President Strategic Shareholder Relations, Government and Public Affairs
Rafael holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Universidad Central de Venezuela (UCV) in Caracas, where he also conducted post-graduate research in the field of social psychology. He subsequently became a professor at the same university.
He has also worked in a variety of leadership roles in marketing and communications for a number of private domestic and international enterprises in a cross section of industries, including automobile, pharmaceuticals, information and technology, tourism, tobacco, and liquor.
In July 1995, he joined Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA) as public relations manager for the South District. He was later appointed public affairs manager for PDVSA’s Eastern Division, and in January 2003, he assumed the position of corporate public affairs manager for the entire company. He first came to CITGO in June 2005, holding the position of vice president of strategic shareholder relations, government and public affairs until November 2007.
After his first tenure at CITGO, Rafael went back to Venezuela, where he became public affairs director for Corpoelec, the state owned power generation company. He was then appointed president of Palmaven, a PDVSA affiliate fully dedicated to the development of social responsibility programs. Most recently, he was president of PDVSA Asfalto, simultaneously holding the position of general manager of PDVSA’s South Division of Exploration and Production.
In February 2014, Rafael was appointed again vice president of strategic shareholder relations, government and public affairs for CITGO.
Vice President Human Resources
Marisol Gómez holds a bachelor’s degree in education, with a concentration in developmental psychology, from Universidad Metropolitana in Caracas (1986). She also holds a masters degree in organizational development from Universidad Católica Andrés Bello in Caracas (1989) and a specialization in human resources management from Universidad Metropolitana (1992).
Gómez joined Petróleos de Venezuela in 1989 and has held a number of positions of increasing responsibility in the area of human resources. Her most recent position was leader of special projects at the Paraguaná Refining Center.
Prior to joining PDVSA, she worked as an external consultant for state and private companies in the area of organizational development, with an emphasis on the design of organizational structures, processes, compensation and salaries.
Jeff Bednar has been a member of the CITGO legal department for more than 26 years, and was Assistant General Counsel for over ten years. During his tenure at CITGO, Jeff has worked on legal issues in nearly all areas of operations of the company including refining, marketing, terminals, light oils, and lubricants. Jeff has supervised and coordinated much of the litigation involving CITGO. Prior to joining CITGO, Jeff served as General Counsel from 1985 to 1988 at Derby Refining Company, in Wichita, Kansas. From 1974 to 1985 Jeff was in the private practice of law and became a partner at the law firm of Weigand Curfman Brainerd Harris Bell and Depew, in Wichita, Kansas in 1978. Jeff holds a Juris Doctorate Law Degree from the University of Kansas and a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Missouri at Rolla.
Richard López became CITGO Corporate Treasurer on December 1, 2012.
Richard has extensive refining industry experience. He specializes in structuring finance and financial planning. Richard joins us from Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA). He started his career in the oil industry in Venezuela with Lagoven (PDVSA) in 1981. He held several positions in the finance department including an assignment to the Amuay refinery from 1993-1996.
Prior to joining CITGO, Richard held the position of Director of Financial Planning and Joint Venture Coordinator for Hovensa in St. Croix, Virgin Islands. In this role, he was responsible for the planning and coordination of operational and executive committees (PDVSA and Hess Corp.).
He holds a bachelor of science in economics from Universidad Central de Venezuela in Caracas, Venezuela, and a masters in international management from the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Arizona.
Franklin Domond has served as general auditor since 2014. He has 25 years of experience in finance, audit and risk management, having held positions with a number of well-known oil and energy companies.
Prior to his current appointment, he managed the internal audit and risk management units for North America and Latin America at GDF Suez Energy, a French company. His responsibilities included directing audit processes for risk evaluation, operational and financial procedures for the exploration and production units, energy and natural gas distribution. He has also held positions with BP America, Ernst & Young and Duke Energy.
John Butts joined CITGO in 1991, having previously worked for Champlin Refining and Chemicals Inc. and Champlin Petroleum (subsidiaries of Union Pacific Corporation). He has served in numerous capacities within CITGO, including feedstock accounting manager, bank operations manager and manager of general accounting, prior to assuming his present position. Butts holds a bachelor's degree in accounting from Phillips University in Enid, Okla., and completed the requirement for CPA certification in the State of Oklahoma in 1981. Mr. Butts has a total of 34 years of experience working in the energy industry in the areas of accounting and finance.