A reshuffle of the cabinet in Equatorial Guinea has seen Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima move away from the oil portfolio, replaced by head of Gepetrol Antonio Oburu Ondo.
Obiang Lima will now serve as Minister of Planning and Economic Diversification.
Presidential Decree 47 set out the new responsibilities, including appointing Oburu to the role of Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons.
OPEC appointed Obiang Lima president for 2023. He is also the head of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF). For now, he continues to hold both those positions.
The minister was keen to bang the drum for the African oil and gas industry, recently talking of the continent’s need for more investment – and local content – at an event in London.
NJ Ayuk, head of the African Energy Chamber (AEC), said Obiang Lima’s move marked “a new era of investment” for Equatorial Guinea. The planning and economic diversification ministry is new.
Oburu “has a long history as someone who understands the industry, and as such, he will help keep the market stable and continue working on attracting the necessary hydrocarbon-focused investments into the country, building on the progress that has already been achieved in Equatorial Guinea,” said Ayuk.
Equatorial Guinea held an election in November 2022. The government resigned at the end of January, paving the way for the reshuffle.
Manuela Roka Botey took over as prime minister, the first woman to hold the role, replacing Francisco Pascual Obama Asue.
Oburu is married to former R&B singer Candida Okomo Nsue Mensa, the niece of First Lady Constancia Mangue Nsue de Obiang. The first lady is the mother of Vice President Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue – sometimes known as Teodorin.
Former oil minister Obiang Lima is the son of the president’s second wife.
Teodorin has increased his international visibility recently. Most analysis believe he will become the next president of Equatorial Guinea. The vice president also attended a refinery deal signing with Oburu – with Obiang Lima absent.
It is not clear what the impact on the oil sector will be. OCCRP and others have linked Oburu to seemingly corrupt payments. However, more political support from the vice presidency may allow developments to accelerate.