BALTIMORE, Jan. 31, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, at the Night of Peace Family Shelter in Baltimore, CITGO Petroleum Corporation President and CEO Alejandro Granado and Citizens Energy Corporation Chairman Joseph P. Kennedy II launched the eighth annual CITGO-Venezuela Heating Oil Program with the first heating oil delivery of this winter's initiative.
The program, which began as a single donation in 2005 in response to the high prices of heating oil resulting from hurricanes Katrina and Rita, has grown well beyond its original scope. Today, it has become a humanitarian symbol of unity between the people of Venezuela and those in need in the United States. This year, this life-changing gift has a heightened sentiment as it comes at a time when Venezuelans and many in the world pray for the health and prompt recuperation of President Hugo Chavez, who has supported this initiative since its creation eight years ago.
"The CITGO-Venezuela Heating Oil Program has been one of the most important energy assistance efforts in the United States. This year, as families across the Eastern Seaboard struggle to recover from the losses caused by Hurricane Sandy, this donation becomes even more significant," said CITGO President and CEO Alejandro Granado. "This energy assistance program is an integral example of the humanitarian principles endorsed by the CITGO ultimate shareholder, Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), the national oil company of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela."
During the years of the program, it has helped more than 1.7 million people stay warm during the coldest months of winter, by donating more than 200 million gallons of heating oil worth more than $400 million. It is estimated that this year the program will help more than 100,000 families in 25 states plus the District of Columbia, including members of more than 240 Native American communities, and will reach more than 200 homeless shelters.
"CITGO invests relatively more than any other major oil company in social responsibility projects. As a matter of fact, our percent of revenue spent in social programs has been five times more than those of other much larger, vertically-integrated competing global brands," added Granado. "It is a core principle of our business to use the strength of our resources to help people in need."
From the program's creation, CITGO has partnered with Citizens Energy Corporation, a non-profit organization created in 1979 by former U.S. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II. Citizens Energy Corporation, which has used successful ventures in the energy and health care industries to finance charitable programs in the U.S. and abroad, has provided energy assistance to families in need for more than 30 years.
"We are so grateful for this generous donation from the people of Venezuela and CITGO Petroleum Corporation. After eight years and more than 200 million gallons of heating oil distributed within the U.S., the burden of another difficult winter threatens the livelihood and safety of senior citizens and low-income families," said Kennedy. "It is critical that we continue to support American families through this program. Thanks to this partnership, we will help more than 400,000 people stay warm and safe this winter."
Kennedy also emphasized the commitment CITGO has made to American communities. He said that he has approached major U.S. oil companies and oil-producing nations to ask them to assist the poor in bearing the burden of rising energy costs. "They all said no," said Kennedy, "except for CITGO, President Chavez and the people of Venezuela."
Congressman Elijah Cummings (MD), who also spoke during the event, reiterated the importance of helping those in need. "I commend CITGO and Citizens Energy Corporation for launching the Heating Oil Program this year. This program is literally life-saving for so many whose resources are already stretched thin in tough economic times. I stand with the many Baltimore and Washington recipients who thank both CITGO and Citizens for their commitment to helping our communities," said Congressman Cummings.
Echoing those sentiments, Claudia Salerno Caldera, Venezuela Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs for North America, addressed the plight of poor people and why humanitarian assistance is so vital. "The vision of social responsibility in the energy policy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has allowed us to assure that our profits benefit the neediest people in our country. Just as the government of President Hugo Chavez has made significant efforts in the fight against poverty and in the promotion of social justice in Venezuela, this program demonstrates that our commitment to the poor transcends all boundaries, ideological and geographical," Salerno stated.
Families struggling to pay for home heating oil can call Citizens Energy Corporation at 1-877-JOE-4-OIL (1-877-563-4645), to see if they are eligible for heating oil assistance. Once approved, the household will receive an authorization letter with details for arranging a one-time delivery of 100 free gallons of oil.
CITGO, based in Houston, is a refiner, transporter and marketer of transportation fuels, lubricants, petrochemicals and other industrial products. The company is owned by PDV America, Inc., an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A., the national oil company of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. For more information visit www.citgo.com.
Beginning in 1979 with oil-trading ventures in Latin America and Africa, Citizens Energy has used revenues from commercial enterprises to channel millions of dollars into charitable programs in the U.S. and abroad. Whether heating the homes of the elderly and the poor, lowering the cost of prescription drugs for millions of Americans, or starting solar heating projects in Jamaica and Venezuela, Citizens Energy creates social ventures as innovative as the businesses that finance them. For more information, visit www.citizensenergy.com.
SOURCE CITGO Petroleum Corporation