The appointment represents the first time a member of the royal family has held the energy minister post in the world’s top oil exporter.
Sunday 08, September 2019 BY KUDAKWASHE MUZORIWA
Saudi Arabia has appointed Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, son of the King, as the new energy minister, replacing Khalid al-Falih, according to local newswire, Saudi Press Agency.
Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman has served in the energy ministry for decades—most recently as state minister for energy affairs—and is seen as a capable and experienced technocrat. Prince Abdulaziz is also a longstanding member of the Kingdom’s delegation to the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) with decades of experience in the oil sector.
In 2017, Prince Abdulaziz was named Minister of State for Energy Affairs and has worked closely with previous oil minister Ali al-Naimi as his deputy for years.
Al-Falih’s future had become uncertain late in August when Saudi Arabia created a ministry for industry and mineral resources, separating it from the Kingdom’s colossal energy ministry. Additionally, last week, Al Falih was also removed from his post as chairman of Saudi Aramco, and Yasser al-Rumayyan, who heads the Public Investment Fund, was named as the new chairman.
He’d been the face of OPEC diplomacy over the past three years, as the producers’ group has sought to counter the rising tide of US shale oil that flooded markets. He was also one of the chief architects of the Kingdom’s attempt in recent years to diversify its revenues away from oil.
Saudi Arabia has cut production to less than 10 million barrels a day as part of its agreement with OPEC to limit output. Al-Falih helped broker the deal that brought other producers like Russia into the effort to balance markets by curbing production. Saudi Arabia is doing the most to support the deal, pumping about 500,000 barrels a day less than they pledged.
OPEC and its allies (OPEC+) are scheduled to meet on 12 September 2019 in Abu Dhabi to review their strategy to shore up global oil markets. Oil traders will be waiting to see whether the change of ministers will mean a change in Saudi policy.