Kuwait appoints deputy prime minister as new oil minister

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

KUWAIT CITY (AP) — Kuwait's named a new oil minister on Sunday after disputes arose between his predecessor and top executives at state-owned firms.

The official Kuwait News Agency, KUNA, reported that a royal decree had named Anas Al-Saleh, the deputy prime minister and finance minister, to also lead the oil ministry. He replaces Ali Al-Omair, who was appointed to lead the ministry of public works and who also serves as state minister for parliamentary affairs.

Al-Omair was facing resistance from the head of Kuwait Petroleum Corp., who refused to implement the minister's order to replace the chief executives for two of the company's subsidiaries, Kuwait Oil Co. and Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Co.

Local media reported earlier that several parliament members were also threatening to question Al-Omair for overstepping his authority. Al-Omair had served as oil minister since January 2014.

Experts say Kuwait, which produces about 2.8 million barrels of oil per day, is not expected to change its oil policy under the new minister because strategic decisions are directed by the Supreme Petroleum Council.

Eurasia Group's Associate for the Middle East and North Africa, Coline Schep, said in a report that "lower tolerance for political infighting" is a positive indicator for Kuwait's economic development. Schep added a governmental investment push in the oil sector has gathered pace since 2014 because of the relationship between the current government and parliament, "resulting in quicker project approval."

As part of a limited Cabinet shuffle, the royal decree also named Sheikh Mohammed Al-Sabah as the new minister of electricity and water in addition to his post as minister of state for Cabinet affairs.