Kuwait’s New Oil Minister On Board With Upstream Project
Kuwait announced its next oil minister, Adel al-Subaih, on February 14th as part of a new government formed by Kuwaiti Prime Minister and Crown Prince Sheikh Saad al-Abdulla al-Sabah.
Al-Subaih immediately sought to reassure oil markets and Western oil firms that the emirate would not change its OPEC policy and that he would support the controversial Kuwait Project, which had been championed by his predecessor.
In announcing the new cabinet, Sheikh Saad ended a two-week period of political paralysis that had brought to the public surface the bitter divisiveness within the ruling al-Sabah clan on power sharing.
Sheikh Saad had submitted his government’s resignation to Emir Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah on January 29th, which had been prompted in great part by the resignation the day before of powerful Foreign Minister and First Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah.
In luring the foreign minister back into the government, the emir and the ailing prime minister had agreed to grant Sheikh Sabah more authority, including the choice of new cabinet members.
However, that decision led to protracted infighting between the key players in the al-Sabah clan over proposed ministerial selections.
It also resulted in the decision by Oil Minister Sheikh Saud Nasser al-Sabah on February 8th to refuse to participate in the formation of a new government.
Sources told Oil Navigator™ that Sheikh Saud, who is closely allied with the prime minister, did not like the direction that the new lineup of the cabinet was taking.
Al-Subaih, 48, served as electricity and water minister and minister of state for housing affairs in the previous government. In December, he survived a no confidence vote in parliament over housing-related issues.
He holds a doctorate in mechanical engineering from North Carolina State University in 1983.
Since 1983, he has been a member of Kuwait’s Supreme Petroleum Council (SPC) and is, therefore, intimately familiar with the Kuwait Project, which seeks to allow Western firms to invest in Kuwait’s crude upstream sector.
Al-Subaih said on February 14th that: “I will continue with the process that His Excellency Sheikh Saud started and build on it.”
Sources tell Oil Navigator™ that while he has fully endorsed Sheikh Saud’s efforts to push the project forward against parliamentary opposition, the new oil minister is likely to take a softer approach.
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)
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