What Happened: Saudi King Salman has appointed Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman as energy minister, replacing Khalid al-Falih, Bloomberg reported Sept. 8.
Why It Matters: Prince Abdulaziz's appointment upends Saudi Arabia's traditional policy of appointing a civilian technocrat as head of the country's Energy Ministry. Despite Prince Abdulaziz's decades of experience in the ministry — as well as his reiteration that he doesn't plan to change Saudi Arabia's energy strategy — the move will increase the royal family's control over the country's vital energy sector. Prince Abdulaziz will be expected to help revitalize plans for an initial public offering by Saudi Arabian Oil Co. and encourage other OPEC members to comply with plans to cut oil production amid slumping global demand.
Background: Saudi Arabia's Energy Ministry has long been vital in communicating the kingdom's energy policy to other OPEC members and representing Riyadh's interests in global oil markets. Al-Falih was also relieved of his duties as Saudi Aramco chairman in recent weeks amid an effort by Crown Prince Mohammed to refocus and further separate the Energy Ministry from the company.
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- The Arab Gulf's Tall Task to Transform the Populace (March 15, 2019)
- The World's Oil Producers Prepare for a New Era of Low Prices (Jan. 7, 2019)