Mahmud Latif, chairman of the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS), has been named the country’s new petroleum minister. Latif replaces Sameh Fahmy, who had been heading the ministry since 1999.

Latif is now a member of the new cabinet sworn in on 22 February by army chief Field Marshall Muhammad Husain Tantawi, who is running the country following the standing down of President Hosni Mubarak.

His appointment will assuage some of the criticism levelled at the military leadership by protesters who had become weary of the number of former regime grandees in leading positions of the transitional government. The defence, justice, interior and foreign affairs portfolios have all served in cabinets under Mubarak.

While not previously serving in government, Latif has extensive experience in the oil and gas industry. After stints at the Suez Petroleum Company (Gupco) and the Khalda Company, he headed the Egyptian Natural Gas Company and later the General Petroleum Company (GPC), then moving on to Badr el-Din Company (Bapetco).

He was appointed vice-chairman for oil and gas at the Natural Gas Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) by Fahmy in 1999.