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New Oil Minister Comes To Power In Algeria

An Algerian Cabinet reshuffle has ousted the freshman oil minister who had held the position for just over a year, replacing him with the head of the country’s domestic natural gas company, according to a spokesperson from the government on Sunday.

Bouterfa Nourreddine will take over Salah Khebri’s top leadership position in the essential oil ministry, the revenues of which make up more than 95 percent of total government income.

Algeria’s oil sector has suffered a steep decline in revenues and new investments since oil prices plummeted in 2014 and again earlier this year.

Nourreddine served as the head of the domestic natural gas company Sonelgaz before accepting his latest position with the government.

A total of seven other cabinet positions, including the minister of finance, were involved in the shuffle.

Algeria pushed for an oil production freeze during the last meeting of OPEC in Vienna on the second of June, though the deal failed to gain consensus after Iran refused to join in.

Iranian officials have refused to consent to freezes this year as the positive effects of lifted international sanctions start to restart the country’s economic engine, albeit slowly.

Related: L.A. Fights To Become Greenest City In The U.S.

The International Monetary Fund released a report last month that showed that the Algerian fiscal deficit had doubled to a full 16 percent of gross domestic product in 2015. Foreign cash reserves had also declined by $35 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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The “fall in oil prices [is] increasing the urgency to reshape Algeria’s growth model,” the IMF said in its analysis of the new economic figures. "The effect of the oil-price shock on growth has been limited thus far, but the fiscal and external balances have deteriorated significantly.”

By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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