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Kuwait government hands in resignation, fate of oil minister unknown

Dubai — Kuwait's government resigned on Thursday, but it was unclear whether oil minister Khaled al-Fadhel will retain his post.

OPEC's fourth largest oil producer is prone to government resignations and reshuffles, with eight different ministers holding the energy portfolio since 2011. Fadhel himself was only appointed 11 months ago.

The turbulence is often instigated by disagreements with an active parliament that has the ability to grill ministers and create an impasse that triggers new parliamentary elections.

Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak al-Sabah handed in the government's resignation Thursday to the country's emir to clear the way for "a rearranging of government work," government spokesperson Tarek Al Merzem said, accordingto state-run KUNA news agency.

Kuwait pumped 2.65 million b/d in October, below its 2.72 million b/d quota under the OPEC/non-OPEC supply cut agreement that runs through March, the latest S&P Global Platts OPEC survey showed.

NEUTAL ZONE

Kuwait is currently in the talks with Saudi Arabia to restart production from the divided Neutral Zone, where they share production equally but it has been shut due to a political dispute since 2015.

Saudi Arabia expects "within the next couple of months" to have a clear path on the issue, Saudi energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman told reporters in September.

The Saudi minister said at the time it would take two to three years for the Neutral Zone production to reach full capacity of 400,000 b/d.

The offshore Khafji field, owned by Saudi Arabia's Aramco Gulf Operations Co. and Kuwait Gulf Oil Co., was shutin October 2014 by Aramco, which cited new government emissions standards for gas flaring. The onshore Wafra field is operated by KGOC and Saudi Arabian Chevron. It was shuttered in May 2015, with Chevron saying it encountered difficulties in securing work and equipment permits.

-- Dania Saadi, dania.el.saadi@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Claudia Carpenter, claudia.carpenter@spglobal.com