Iran oil minister replaced, caretaker appointed

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has removed Kazem Vaziri Hamaneh as the country's oil minister and appointed Gholamhossein Nozari as the caretaker until further notice.

Uchenna Izundu
International Editor

LONDON, Aug. 14 -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has removed Kazem Vaziri Hamaneh as the country's oil minister and appointed Gholamhossein Nozari as the caretaker until further notice. Analysts have interpreted the move as stamping his authority on one of the country's major industries that generates lucrative revenues.

Ahmadinejad did not give a reason for replacing Hamaneh, but in a letter announcing his replacement, the head of state-owned National Iranian Oil Co., Ahmadinejad thanked Hamaneh for his efforts to date. A spokesman from the Iranian oil ministry told OGJ that Hamaneh would serve the president in an advisory role on oil and gas affairs. He had held the role of oil minister for the last 2 years.

Iranian press said that Ahmadinejad was unhappy with Hamaneh's performance in attracting foreign investment and with the unrest in the country following gasoline rationing in June. Critics also said Iran had sold gas too cheaply to India and Pakistan via the proposed 2,300 km pipeline under development.

Ahmadinejad will need to introduce a candidate before Iran's parliament for the appointment to become official, the ministry spokesman added. He was unable to give a timetable on when this would happen and if indeed Nozari would be presented.

After Ahmadinejad took office, parliament in 2005 blocked three of his candidates for oil minister, complaining that they did not have sufficient experience in the industry. Hamaneh was subsequently accepted, much to Ahmadinejad's dismay.

Industry minister Ali Reza Tahmasebi was also replaced by Ali Akbar Mehrabian, as industry caretaker minister.

Contact Uchenna Izundu at uchennai@pennwell.com.

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