Kuwait’s new Oil Minister Mustafa al-Shimali, appointed earlier this week after last month’s parliamentary elections, faces hard parliamentary obstacles to driving through a backlog of upstream and refinery mega-projects. But he has confronted parliament before – as finance minister – and is a tenacious veteran. Mr Shimali, crucially, enjoys the support of the CEO and board of state-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC). Mr Shimali had been acting oil minister since the resignation of Hani Husain, forced out under parliamentary pressure (MEES, 31 May).

Mr Shimali has outsmarted parliament before: in May last year he resigned under parliamentary pressure as finance minister to be later reinstated by the prime minister. Nor will he back down in front of parliamentary ‘grillings’ – public quizzing by members of parliament: many ministers have quit first to avoid this. His ‘grilling’ last year over his alleged failing to end financial irregularities at his ministry was an hours-long session. “He’s a tough guy” a contractor tells MEES. A former KPC senior executive adds: “He’s not new to the government nor parliament, so won’t be intimidated by opposition MPs.” (CONTINUED - 789 WORDS)