New PetroSA CEO appointment imminent – with three contenders

 ·13 Feb 2024

South Africa is preparing to appoint a new chief executive officer of state oil and gas company PetroSA, ending a more than yearlong leadership vacuum, Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe said.

“We submitted the name of a CEO in November”, and they will be appointed once the cabinet gives its approval, Mantashe said by phone on Monday.

PetroSA, in a later statement, said Sandisiwe Ncemane, who has been acting CEO since October 2022, has been “released” to her former employer, the Central Energy Fund. She will be replaced, in an acting capacity, by Sesakho Magadla.

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

Ncemane was competing with Chairman Nkululeko Poya for the post, said the people familiar with the decision.

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

Late last year, PetroSA, which has made a series of losses, courted controversy by selecting a unit of Russia’s Gazprom Group to help revive its gas-to-liquid fuel refinery in the southern town of Mossel Bay.

South Africa’s cabinet endorsed the decision, in a move that’s likely irked the US, which has imposed sanctions on the state-owned Russian firm.

Four foreign banks told PetroSA they will sever relations with the company if it proceeds, Africa Intelligence reported.

The US is South Africa’s second-biggest trade partner and has criticized the African country’s relationship with Russia.

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

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