Nock starts search for CEO to replace Hassan-Athmani

Former National Oil Corporation of Kenya CEO Sumayya Hassan-Athmani addresses a past meeting in Nairobi. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA
Former National Oil Corporation of Kenya CEO Sumayya Hassan-Athmani addresses a past meeting in Nairobi. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA 

The National Oil Corporation of Kenya (Nock) has opened the search for a new chief executive to replace Sumayya Hassan-Athmani who exited the company in acrimonious circumstances in July.

The State-owned oil firm Thursday advertised the key position which is currently held in an acting position by MaryJane Mwangi, who served as Nock’s general manager in charge of downstream operations prior to her new role.

Ms Athmani’s five-year term was marked by boardroom wrangles and high drama which saw her forced out of office, temporarily reinstated, before she eventually chose to retire.

The oil marketer’s board of directors is eying candidates who hold a Master’s degree in business or engineering-related field and who also have at least 10 years’ experience, four of them at a senior management level.

“The ideal candidate will be called upon to drive change, lead and build a competitive fully integrated oil and gas company,” the oil company said in a newspaper notice.

“Therefore, strong marketing, financial and interpersonal skills are essential as well as practical, relevant and thorough knowledge and experience of the oil and gas sector.”

Nock began operations in 1984 and its strategic mandate is to play a price stabilising role and arrest any cartel-like behaviour by private marketers.

The oil firm slid into the red in the first half of last year to post a loss of Sh270 million, leading to the board sending the CEO home in January and ordering for a forensic audit. But three weeks later Deputy President William Ruto reinstated Ms Athmani pending a forensic audit. Later, the parastatal issued a statement saying Ms Athmani had “left the corporation at her request effective July 1, 2016.”

The incoming Nock chief executive will be tasked with revamping the firm’s retail network, return the oil marketer to profitability, oversee multi-billion infrastructure projects, and guide the company into crude oil extraction.

The successful applicant will hold the position for three years, with the option of reappointment. Interested candidates are required to send in their applications by January 7, 2017.

“The job holder will be responsible for identifying and providing strategic direction on new investments, business opportunities and change management,” Nock’s board stated.

The oil marketer’s retail footprint has dropped to 99 stations from 120 last year. They sell fuel, lubricants and cooking gas. The firm has a domestic market share of 4.9 per cent and is ranked sixth behind Total, Shell, KenolKobil, Gulf and OiLibya.

The company is currently seeking a strategic partner to help raise $260 million (Sh26 billion) to build an offshore loading and offloading jetty and a modern storage terminal in Mombasa.

Nock also wants to set up strategic petroleum reserves across the country under the public-private partnership model, at a cost of $1.5 billion, with capacity to last for 90 days.

The government agency owns oil block 14T located within the tertiary rift basin. Ms Athmani’s predecessor was Mwendia Nyaga, who served between 2007 and 2010. He currently works as a consultant.