Thursday, 4 August 2011

New oil minister approved by Majlis

After months of political infighting in Iran over who will head up the oil ministry, a suitable candidate has finally been found: Brigadier General Rustem Ghassemi , a member of the all powerful Revolutionary Guard or Sepah who for the past few years as headed up the Sepah's contracting arm, Khatam Ol Anbia (or Ghorb ), which has benefited from several lucrative gas contracts, including a $2 billion deal to oversee Phases 15 and 16 of the giant South Pars project.

But Khatam's ability to secure any external funding has been made almost impossible by US and EU sanctions, which have designated the company a supporter of weapons proliferation. Ghassemi, who unlike his predecessor Massoud Mirkazemi has some oil industry experience, was nominated by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the end of July to be full-time minister and the following week received the all-clear from the Majlis or parliament. Ahmadinejad, who is desperate to secure control of the oil sector to increase his political clout, in June nominated a close ally Ali Aliabadi , to be caretaker minister. But Aliabadi, who was most recently head of Iran's Olympic Committee, wasnever going to get parliament's approval.

For more news and expert analysis about the Caspian region, please see Caspian Focus.

For more news and expert analysis about Iran, please see Iran Strategic Focus.

© 2011 Menas Associates

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