Six key figures leading the development of Libya’s oil industry: Shokri Ghanem, John Winterman, Alvareo Racero, Hugh McDowell and Kurt Wagner
Position Chairman and chief executive officer (CEO), National Oil Corporation (NOC)
Biography Shokri Ghanem has been chairman of state energy major NOC since 2005. He stepped down briefly in late 2009 before being reappointed to the post. The hiatus was seen as a struggle between reformers and conservatives in Libya’s energy industry, with Ghanem in the former camp. Before taking the reins at the biggest state oil firm in Africa, he served as secretary-general of the Libyan General People’s Congress elected in 2003. As such he undertook a number of key economic and political reforms in the country, and worked to end international sanctions against Libya. Prior to his appointment as prime minister, Ghanem also served as Libya’s economy and trade minister from 2001. From 1993 to 2001, Ghanem was director of research at the Opec secretariat in Vienna, Austria. NOC holds a minimum 60 per cent stake in all major oil developments in the country.
Contact Tel: (+218) 21 444 6181
Position President and general manager, Occidental Petroleum Libya
Biography John Winterman is president and general manager of US-based Occidental Petroleum’s operations in Libya. The international oil company has the largest amount of acreage in Libya, under exploration and production contracts signed since 2005. Occidental was the first US firm to re-enter Libya after economic sanctions were lifted. Winterman was appointed to his current role in 2006 and has 30 years of experience, mostly in exploration and production. Winterman began his career at Occidental in 1981 as a geologist, after graduating from London’s Queen Mary College, with a bachelor’s degree in geology. In 2008, he helped renegotiate Occidental’s contracts for developing the Sirte basin, extending them by 30 years. In March 2009, Winterman was made an executive vice-president at Occidental, reporting directly to chief executive Ray Irani on a series of projects.
Contact Tel: (+218) 21 335 1955
Position Regional executive director – Europe, Asia & Africa, Repsol
Biography Although Alvareo Racero does not directly oversee Spanish major Repsol’s operations in Libya, he has been a key part of the team that built up the company’s presence in the country. In 2006, Repsol announced it had made the biggest discovery in the country in over a decade, at the I/R field, which held more than 1 billion barrels of oil. The company started production from the field in 2008. That same year, Racero led negotiations to extend the company’s contracts in Libya to 2032. Racero has a doctorate in minerals mining from Spain’s University of Madrid. He began his career as a geophysicist working for several international oil majors from the mid-1980s onward, and joined Repsol in 2001. For Repsol, he worked mainly in exploration and production in the US, before taking up his current position as regional executive director for Europe, Africa and Asia in 2006.
Contact Tel: (+218) 21 335 0380
Position General manager, BP Exploration Libya
Biography Hugh McDowell has been the general manager of BP Exploration Libya since 2008, a period which has seen him call on his skills as a diplomat as much as an oilman. The release of the Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi from a Scottish jail in 2009 caused international outcry and allegations that BP lobbied to have him freed have led to intense scrutiny of the company’s role in Libya. The company’s travails in the US’ Gulf of Mexico and subsequent decision to continue deepwater drilling in Libya have also caused much controversy. McDowell started his career as a geoscientist in the 1970s, joining the US’ Amoco, which merged with BP in 1999. He previously worked as general manager in Azerbaijan and Georgia, where he headed a team tasked with planning new pipelines in the region. BP plans to start drilling for oil off the Gulf of Sirte in either late 2010 or early 2011.
Contact Tel: (+218) 21 340 8747
Position General manager, OMV Libya
Biography Kurt Wagner was appointed general manager of Vienna-based OMV’s Libyan operations in 2007. Since then, he has overseen the rapid growth of the firm in Libya. In 2009, OMV reported it had made an offshore discovery in the Sirte basin. OMV is one of the longest-serving international oil companies in Libya, where it has had a presence since 1975. In 1995, the company bought 25 per cent of Occidental’s production contracts as US firms reduced their presence in the country. Today, it holds the fourth biggest exploration and production acreage in Libya, and produces 40,000 barrels a day of oil. Wagner graduated in 1985 with a diploma in petroleum engineering from Austria’s Montanuniversitat Leoben. Since then he has worked in a variety of roles, most of them with OMV. Along with NOC and Occidental, OMV is currently focused on the redevelopment of existing oil fields using enhanced oil recovery techniques.
Contact Tel: (+218) 21 335 0367