Saudi Arabia Names New Energy Minister, Appointing Royal with Deep OPEC Experience

Saudi Arabia has named a new energy minister in Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, a son of King Salman and older half brother of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to replace Khalid Al-Falih.

Abdulaziz bin Salman is the first member of the royal family to serve as oil minister in Saudi Arabia, a break from longstanding tradition. Prince Abdulaziz is nevertheless seen as a “safe and steady choice to lead the ministry” who has a lifetime of experience in oil policy, according to the Associated Press.

The prince been a member of Saudi Arabia’s delegation to OPEC for many years and is seen as an oil industry veteran. According to Bloomberg, the Prince is “a regular participant at the group’s meetings on production policy” and “has a reputation for diligence and an ability to bridge differences between Saudi ministers and those of other members of the organization.” The Prince was also “instrumental in managing oil affairs during the 1990 Gulf War and the secret talks with Mexico and Venezuela that led to output cuts which helped raise prices during that decade.”

Bloomberg also notes that the new Minister will be [p]romoting an oil policy that boosts prices to a level that can sustain government spending — a price some $25 a barrel higher than it is now.”

In some of his first comments as minister, Prince Abdulaziz said Saudi Arabia is “committed to working with other producers inside and outside OPEC for the stability and balance of global oil markets.”

Al-Falih was holding two key portfolios before the changes – as Minister of Energy and also as Chairman of Saudi Aramco. His replacement at the Ministry of Energy follows last week’s decision to replace him as Aramco chairman with Yasir Al-Rumayyan.
Al-Falih said Al-Rumayyan’s appointment came “as an important step to prepare the company for the public offering.”