The era of heightened project activity in Kuwait that followed the election of a less combative parliament in 2013 could be about to end due to a worsening conflict between senior officials in the country’s oil and gas sector.

A stand-off between Nizar Mohammad al-Adsani, the CEO of state-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC), and Oil Minister Ali al-Omair is threatening to freeze progress on all oil and gas projects that are yet to see contracts awarded.

The projects under threat include the Al-Zour New Refinery Project (NRP), which is estimated to be worth $14bn and was expected to see its five core packages awarded this year.

At the heart of the dispute between Al-Adsani and Al-Omair are the latter’s plans for the Oil Ministry to nominate more members to the board of KPC, increasing his own influence over the country’s energy sector.

This move has been fiercely resisted by Al-Adsani, leading to a state of affairs where neither will meet each other over any matter.

The breakdown in cooperation between the Oil Ministry and KPC has sweeping ramifications for the energy sector.

Both Al-Adsani and Al-Omair hold seats on Kuwait’s Supreme Petroleum Council, which gives approval for the issuance of tenders and approves the results of studies.

The dispute between the Al-Adsani and Al-Omair has put a stop to the Supreme Petroleum Council’s meetings, which are supposed to take place four times a year, effectively freezing progress on all projects not yet being executed.

If there is no resolution to the dispute between Al-Adsani and Al-Omair, it is likely there will be long delays for many projects as officials scramble to find a way around the impasse.

After a decade of inactivity due to political squabbles, in 2014 Kuwait saw a record year for projects with $25.8bn-worth of contracts awarded.

This year was expected to be another record year for projects, with contracts worth $27.4bn due to be awarded.

However, with 79 per cent of that figure due to come from project awards in the oil and gas sector, fallout from the ongoing conflict between KPC and the Oil Ministry could mean that only a fraction of this sum is actually awarded.

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