Kuwait: Oil Minister, Top Executives Resign Amid Internal Rows

Kuwaiti Oil Minister Bakheet Al-Rashidi and two top executives of state-owned energy companies resigned amid persistent internal disputes that have been delaying projects in OPEC’s fifth-biggest producing country.

Al-Rashidi’s resignation has been accepted, according to a person familiar with the situation. Kuwait Oil Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamal Jaafar submitted his resignation last week, the person said. Hatem Al-Awadhi, acting CEO of Kuwait Integrated Petroleum Industries Co., said he resigned for personal reasons.

A government spokesman couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

“The minister was driven to resign because of the grilling and because of a lack of support within the government,” said Kamel al-Harami, an independent oil analyst and former executive of state-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corp. Kuwait’s chronic internal disputes have contributed to delays in projects, he said.

The country’s oil industry, which provides more than 90% of public revenue, has been caught up in political wrangling for about two decades, with 15 people serving as ministers over that period. A number of high-profile energy projects have been either delayed or cancelled.

An Emiri decree is expected to be issued to appoint a new KPC board as the three-year term of the current board, including Chief Executive Officer Nizar Al-Adsani, ends this week.

Al-Rashidi, who had been oil minister since last December, submitted his resignation earlier this month after lawmakers stepped up pressure on the government for his dismissal amid allegations of mismanagement. He still carried out his duties after that and travelled to Vienna to participate in the meetings of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Al-Rashidi survived a no-confidence vote in May after being questioned in parliament over the alleged mismanagement. A government-appointed committee formed to investigate the allegations has compiled a report, and MPs have since called for the resignations of Al-Rashidi and other senior officials. Lawmakers have said they plan to question the minister again.

Kuwait Petroleum issued a statement in October, responding to what was published about the committee’s report in local media. The company said the report contained “erroneous information based on incomplete information, and lacks accuracy and professionalism.” It denied any squandering of public funds or providing misleading information on the progress of projects.

Source Credit: Bloomberg