Top Kuwaiti oil executive retires

08 October 2009

Political issues hit development of energy sector

Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) director Jamal al-Nouri has left the state energy giant.

The KPC veteran was appointed managing director of corporate planning in September 2007.

Al-Nouri says he has retired from KPC and will no longer have an active role in the company. He did not give a reason for his departure and KPC declined to comment further.

Alnouri was responsible for upstream and downstream oil and gas projects at the company and was in charge of the country’s plan to boost production capacity from 3 million barrels a day (b/d) to 4 million (b/d) by 2020.

He will be replaced by Hashim al-Rifai. The new head of planning will retain his position as chairman and managing director of KPC subsidiary Oil Development Company, which is responsible for the implementation of Project Kuwait. The scheme plans to develop heavy oil fields in the north, in collaboration with international oil companies (IOCs).

Al-Rifai will therefore be head of the controversial development of the emirate’s oil sector. The use of natural resources has become an increasingly politicised issue and parliamentary wrangling has resulted in Project Kuwait stalling since it was first announced in 1995.

In December 2008, the country’s Supreme Petroleum Council (SPC) withfrew from a $17.5bn petrochemicals joint venture with the US’ Dow Chemical, and in March construction contracts awarded on a $15bn refinery were cancelled by the SPC after increasing political pressure.

Kuwait’s Oil Minister Sheikh Ahmad al-Abdullah al-Ahmad al-Sabah said on 6 October that the planned capacity boost would take ten years longer than expected, although he retracted this statement a day later and KPC have denied the assertion.

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