Algeria Names New Energy Minister
Algeria has named a new energy minister as part of a broader cabinet reshuffle, the government-run APS news agency reported on February 21.
Mohamed Arkab will replace Abdelmadjid Attar in the role, under a presidential decree. Arkab had served as energy minister between April 2019 and June 2020, when he was replaced by Attar in another reshuffle ordered by president Abdelmadjid Tebboune.
Under the latest upheaval, the ministers of industry, water resources, tourism, the environment, public works and statistics and digitalisation will also be replaced. In addition, Algerian president Abdelmadjid Tebboune has also decreed that the lower house of parliament be dissolved, and has announced that early parliament elections will take place within three months.
The current lawmakers in the national assembly were elected in 2017 with five-year terms, and the majority hail from the National Liberation Front party of ex-president Abdelaziz Bouteflika and its coalition ally, the Rally for National Democracy. Bouteflika was forced to resign amid mass protests in 2019, after 20 years in power. Tebboune, a former prime minister under Bouteflika, said the decision to dissolve the national assembly was part of reforms that follow constitutional amendments passed last November, which gave parliament greater power.
Algeria, Africa's biggest gas producer and its second largest oil producer after Nigeria, has seen export revenues plummet since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Its budget, heavily reliant on oil and gas revenues, has a fiscal breakeven oil price of $135/barrel, according to the IMF, while Brent is currently trading at under $64/b.
The government has sought to attract more foreign investors to its upstream sector, signing a number of preliminary deals on joint activities with international oil companies over the past year. It also passed an energy law early last year, offering investors more attractive terms including extra tax incentives.