State-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) has appointed Fahad Salem al-Ajmi as the new chairman and managing director of its refining and distribution division, Kuwait National Petroleum Corporation (KNPC).

The position had been vacant for almost nine months since the promotion of Farouk al-Zanki from KNPC to chief executive officer of KPC in October 2010.

KNPC’s deputy managing director, Asad al-Saad has also moved to Kuwait Aviation Fuel Company (KAFCO).

Al-Ajmi was previously chairman and managing director of another KPC subsidiary, Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company (KUFPEC). He is replaced by Nizar al-Adsani.

Hisham al-Rifai, the former managing director of planning at KPC has also moved on to Kuwait Gulf Oil Company (KGOC), which represents the country in the divided neutral zone with Saudi Arabia.

“All his experience in the upstream, so this is almost exactly a repeat of what happened with Farouk [al-Zanki]”, says a Kuwait City-based source.

“Al-Zanki wanted Al-Ajmi to take the upstream position, managing [state-owned] Kuwait Oil Company, but it seems Sami al-Rushaid [KOC chairman] did not want to move or retire”, says the source.

Al-Ajmi will be tasked with leading Kuwait’s plans to upgrade and expand its downstream refining sector, in particular pushing ahead with two schemes worth almost $30bn – the delayed New Refinery Project at Al-Zour and the Clean Fuels Project. The schemes still await approval from the Supreme Petroleum Council, Kuwait’s highest oil decision-making body (MEED 29:11:10).