All eyes are now turned on Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman who becomes the first individual from Saudi royalty to be appointed on a strategic post on the Saudi cabinet as the head of the Oil Ministry.
It s a surprising but well thought out move by the current King to have introduced his son who is an older half-brother to the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, and an experienced oil industry figure in Saudi Arabia. While both brothers are not known to be close, they are going to work on the same long term agenda that the kingdom is focusing on.
Speaking at the World Energy Council at Abu Dhabi, his first public appearance as the oil minister, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman made it very clear that his focus was to ensure that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) would strengthen and extend its agreement with non-OPEC producers. This would include Russia.
Saudi Arabia is now been working towards developing other options that total dependence on oil as their main place of trade. This is one big reason why Prince Abdul Aziz’s predecessor Khalid Al-Falih was respectfully shown the door. Falih was unable to adjust to the changing tide of time and was thus replaced with someone who is seen to have a far more futuristic and planned mindset towards long term change.
At the meeting, Prince Abdul Aziz has also said to have hinted that he would wish to widen OPEC in order to give non-members a more permanent role. “This industry has to have the institutions that can give the notion of support toward sustainable energy supplies commensurate with what the world economy requires,” he said. With his introduction to the oil ministry, it is clear that the Saudi government also would like to keep the state-owned oil company Aramco separate from the workings of the ministry. Earlier Falih had been working as the CEO for Aramco. He was relieved of this position a few weeks before the oil ministry portfolio was handed over to Prince Abdul Aziz.