Iraq's South Oil Co Gets Third Leader in a Year

BAGHDAD (THE WALL STREET JOURNAL via Dow Jones Newswires), May 28, 2009

The Iraqi Oil Ministry has appointed a new head of the South Oil Co., marking the organization's third leader in a year.

Fayadh al-Mosawi, who had been head of South Oil's Planning Department, was named the new head of the company last week, Oil Ministry spokesman Assem Jihad said. He replaced Kifah Numan, who said he decided to retire after more than 35 years at South Oil over taking a job offer at the Oil Ministry in Baghdad.

Mr. Numan had replaced Jabbar al-Leaby last spring after Mr. Leaby clashed with the Oil Ministry over the management of South Oil. Mr. Numan, who was also seen as an outspoken critic of the Oil Ministry, was Mr. Leaby's deputy. Mr. Leaby was eventually appointed as an advisor to the Oil Ministry but is currently on leave for health reasons, he said.

South Oil, located in Basra in southern Iraq, is a critical part of the ministry because it is the main engine for Iraq's oil production and export. Iraq currently produces almost 2.5 million barrels of oil a day and South Oil is responsible for about 80% of that production.

But in recent months, South Oil's production has gone down from about 2.2 million barrels a day to less than 2 million barrels a day. A spokesman for South Oil confirmed the new appointment but said Mr. Mosawi was not available for comment.

The Oil Ministry and its minister, Hussein al-Shahristani, are facing increasing criticism from lawmakers and other politicians for failing to significantly boost production over the last few years. Iraq relies on oil sales for about 90% of government revenue and has been facing a budget crunch because of the drop in oil prices.  

Copyright (c) 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.


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