Energy

PetroSA lines up new CEO amid controversial Gazprom deal

Gwede Mantashe

South Africa’s government has identified a new CEO for PetroSA, the state oil company that’s courted controversy with plans for an investment by a sanctioned Russian firm.

The name of a new CEO has been submitted to the Cabinet, and the person will be appointed once approval is granted, Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe said by phone on Monday.

The company named Sesakho Magadla as acting CEO to replace Sandisiwe Ncemane, who’s returned to the Central Energy Fund after serving in an interim capacity at PetroSA since October 2022.

“Acting appointments are interim pending the official appointment of a group chief executive officer,” the company said in a statement on Monday. 

In December, PetroSA announced that it had selected a unit of Russia’s Gazprom to help revive its gas-to-liquid fuel refinery in the southern town of Mossel Bay – a decision that’s been endorsed by South Africa’s cabinet.

The move risked irking the US, which has sanctioned the state-owned Russian firm.

Four foreign banks told PetroSA they’ll sever relations with the company if the deal proceeds, Africa Intelligence reported in January. The US – South Africa’s second-biggest trade partner – has criticized the African nation’s relationship with Russia.

A final investment decision will be made in the next two months, according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified as a public announcement hasn’t been made.

Ncemane had been competing with Chairman Nkululeko Poya for the post of CEO, said the people.

Poya is said to be favoured for the role by Mantashe, while Danny Stimela, an acting manager in the CEO’s office, is also a contender, the people said.

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