Kuwait Appoints Al-Marzouk New Oil Minister in Cabinet Changes

  • Al-Marzouk replaces acting oil minister Anas Al-Saleh
  • Al-Saleh keeps deputy prime minister, finance minister posts

Kuwait appointed Essam Al-Marzouk, chairman of the company that manages the country’s stock market, as oil minister, the state-run news agency KUNA reported.

He replaced the acting oil minister Anas Al-Saleh, who will retain his position as deputy prime minister and finance minister, the news service said. The appointment of Al-Marzouk was part of a cabinet reshuffle. The new cabinet headed by prime minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah will swear its oath to the Emir of Kuwait on Saturday.

The new minister has challenges ahead of him. Kuwait will chair the OPEC monitoring committee responsible for ensuring that members are sticking to production cuts agreed upon last month at the group’s meeting in Vienna. Kuwait itself committed to cut output by 131,000 barrels a day from October levels.

Al-Marzouk, who started his career at the state-owned refiner Kuwait National Petroleum Co., was appointed last year to the board of Kuwait Petroleum Corp., known as KPC. A spokesman for KPC declined to comment if Al-Marzouk is still on the board of directors when contacted today by phone.

Challenges at home

At home, the new minister needs to ensure that the oil sector expansion plans remain on track. Kuwait plans to increase its production capacity to 4 million barrels a day by 2020 and build a new refinery with a capacity of 615,000 barrels a day.

The new minister will be charged with resolving disputes with Saudi Arabia over resuming production from oil fields in the neutral zone, which they share on their border. They’ve been shut for two years.

Last month, former minister Al-Saleh and Saudi energy minister Khalid Al-Falih had an initial agreement to resume output from Wafra and Khafji shared fields, without agreeing on a date for the resumption, according to an official with knowledge of the plan. Both countries hold equal shares of production and reserves at Wafra and Khafji, which have a combined output capacity of more than 500,000 barrels a day.

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