The Venezuelan Energy Ministry said in July it was considering separate offers for Citgo from Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan in the range of $10 billion to $15 billion.
Combined refinery output from Citgo is 757,000 barrels per day, with most of that centered at its Lake Charles facility in Louisiana. The company said it made more sense to sell off the entire downstream sector than unload facilities piece by piece.
Unloading Citgo would free up exports PDVSA could direct toward China. Both sides have agreements to increase exports by more than 60 percent to 1 million barrels of oil per day by 2016.
Oil production in the United States is such that it relies less on foreign oil than at any other time since at least the 1970s, meaning Venezuela is eager for new export markets.
The executive at PDVSA told Argus picking Lazard was the "obvious choice" because the company has worked with Caracas on restructuring its foreign debt.