Angola sacks chairman of state energy firm

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Angola’s President João Lourenço has sacked Carlos Saturnino as chair of state energy firm, Sonangol, in the midst of one of the worst fuel shortages to hit Africa’s second-largest crude producer in years.

Sebastiao Gaspar Martins will replace Saturnino as chair of the oil producer, a statement from the president’s office said.

The statement did not give a reason for the change, but it comes a day after Lourenço promised a rapid resolution to the shortage of fuel that is plaguing the capital of Luanda and cities across the southern African country.

In spite of  producing around 1.5 million barrels of oil per day, Angola relies on imports for 80 per cent of its demand for refined products such as petrol and diesel.

Sonangol, Angola’s largest and most influential company, blamed the shortage on difficulties in accessing hard currency, as well as unpaid debts owed to the energy company by industrial clients.

The new chairman, Gaspar Martins, is an oil industry veteran who has worked at Sonangol for nearly 40 years. The engineer most recently served on Sonangol’s board as an executive administrator.

Saturnino was appointed in November 2017, when Lourenço sacked Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of a former Angolan president who had previously led the state oil company.