Ahmadinejad names general to run oil ministry

Iranian president nominates Rostam Ghasemi, the head of an engineering firm controlled by the Revolutionaty Guard.

    Ahmadinejad sacked the oil minister and replaced him with a caretaker the following month [EPA]

    Iran's president has nominated Brigadier General Rostam Ghasemi, a senior commander in the Revolutionary Guard, as the country's next oil minister.

    Ghasemi is the head of Khatam al-Anbia, an engineering firm with a number of high-profile contracts in Iran's oil and gas sector.

    He is also subject to United States sanctions, and is one of six Revolutionary Guard commanders placed under European Union sanctions last year. The sanctions bar him from travelling in the EU, which would seemingly make it impossible for Ghasemi to attend OPEC's quarterly summits in Vienna.

    Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, sacked the former oil minister in May, and in June he appointed Mohammad Aliabadi, a close ally, as the caretaker oil minister. Aliabadi has little experience in the oil sector - he was previously a sports official - and he has been dogged in the past by allegations of corruption.

    Ahmadinejad was expected to appoint Aliabadi as the permanent minister, but several members of parliament have criticised that idea in recent weeks.

    Hamid-Reza Katouzian, the head of parliament's energy committee, said last month that Aliabadi was the "worst choice" for the job.

    Iran's oil industry has come under increasing pressure in recent months due to international sanctions. India, one of Iran's major customers, owes Tehran billions of dollars in dues which it cannot pay due to banking sanctions; Iran has threatened to cut back its exports to India, which has started buying more Saudi oil in response.

    Sanctions have also hurt Iran's ability to attract foreign investment in the oil sector, and Ghasemi's appointment could suggest that Iran plans to rely more on domestic contractors in the future.

    Ahmadinejad also nominated several other ministers, for sport and youth; industry, trades and mining; and labour and social security. All of the nominations are subject to parliamentary approval.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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