CITGO Petroleum Corp. and Citizens Energy Corp. have launched the ninth annual CITGO-Venezuela Heating Oil Program.
The CITGO-Venezuela Heating Oil Program, the only of its kind in the U.S., has donated more than 235 million gallons of heating oil to more than 1.8 million people since 2005. As in previous years, this program will assist families, homeless shelters, and Native American tribes in 25 states and the District of Columbia.
According to the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association, this year nearly 7 million U.S. households will need heating assistance. The typical heating oil customer who lives in the Northeast is expected to spend more than $2,000 on fuel this winter, up 35% from the winter of 2008-2009. Families living in older homes will spend as much as $4,000 to keep the house warm.
“We have committed to this program once again this year because we see it as a humanitarian effort that helps our most vulnerable neighbors stay warm during one of the coldest winters in history,” said Nelson Martinez, president and CEO of CITGO Petroleum Corp. “We can’t relieve the need for everyone but this is our humble contribution to share the responsibility of improving the quality of life in our communities by using the strength of our resources to help those in need. This is one of the most important values we share with our shareholder, Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), the national oil company of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela,” he added.
The CITGO-Venezuela Heating Oil Program began as a single donation in response to the skyrocketing price of heating oil in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Ever since, CITGO has dedicated itself to providing vital energy assistance for those who are forced to make the choice between purchasing vital necessities like food and medicine and heating their homes.
Since the first year of the heating oil program, CITGO has partnered with Citizens Energy Corporation, a non-profit created in 1979 by former U.S. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II, to deliver the fuel. Citizens Energy Corp., 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.
“The poor are facing a terrible hardship this winter,” said Kennedy. “Federal fuel assistance has dropped 40% over the last few years while heating oil prices have jumped by a third. With the kind of cold we’ve experienced this winter, the federal aid just doesn’t go as far. It’s a triple whammy on the poor. That’s why the generosity of CITGO Petroleum and the people of Venezuela is so important—it helps fill the fuel gap for the most vulnerable among us.”
The Venezuelan Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs for North America, Claudia Salerno Caldera, who attended last year’s launch of the program, expressed the support of the Venezuelan government again this year. “Helping the poor is a humanitarian principle that is inherently tied to responsible energy policy in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and one that transcends geographical boundaries,” she said. “President Chavez promoted this program in response to a request for humanitarian aid at a time of high fuel prices. President Maduro has ratified this support, so that the program will continue to warm U.S. homes as a sign of solidarity between the peoples of Venezuela and the U.S.”
Families struggling to pay for home heating oil can call Citizens Energy Corp. at (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 up to 100 free gallons of oil.