May 8, 2019 / 9:28 PM / 2 months ago

UPDATE 1-Angolan president sacks chair of state energy firm Sonangol

(Adds details, context)

LUANDA, May 8 (Reuters) - Angola’s President João Lourenço on Wednesday 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.

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

Sonangol, Angola’s largest and most influential company, blamed the shortage on difficulties 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. (Reporting by Stephen Eisenhammer, editing by G Crosse)

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