UPDATE 1-Venezuelan president names new head of PDVSA, foreign minister

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(Adds details, quotes)

CARACAS, Jan 6 (Reuters) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Friday named Pedro Rafael Tellechea as the new head of state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) and said Yvan Gil Pinto would become the new foreign minister.

Venezuela’s oil exports last year declined due to infrastructure outages, U.S. sanctions and rising competition in its Asia market despite assistance from ally Iran, according to shipping data and documents.

Exports this year are expected to get a lift after the United States relaxed oil sanctions by authorizing some PDVSA partners to resume taking Venezuelan crude.

Tellechea has “great experience” leading state chemical company Pequiven and will “consolidate the momentum of the national oil industry,” Maduro said on Twitter.

It was unclear if Tellechea would lead both companies or if he would be replaced at Pequiven, where he has overseen a boost in petrochemical exports that provided much-needed cash flow to Maduro’s administration.

Former head of PDVSA Asdrubal Chavez, a cousin of late President Hugo Chavez and former oil minister, will soon have new responsibilities, Maduro added.

In a separate tweet, Maduro named Gil Pinto to head the country’s diplomacy.

Venezuela is enjoying renewed ties with countries like Colombia after years of isolation, bolstered by the global need for oil amid the conflict in Ukraine.

“It’s a great responsibility I’m sure he will perform with great professionalism,” Maduro said about Gil Pinto, who had been serving as vice-minister for Europe.

Former foreign minister Carlos Faria will also get a new role, Maduro added. (Reporting by Vivian Sequera, additional reporting by Marianna Parraga, Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb, Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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