Al-Falih is Saudi Aramco’s new chairman

khalid falihA question mark remains, however, over who will replace Khalid al-Falih (in picture) in the CEO role at Saudi Aramco and whether his appointment as health minister means he is now out of the running to ultimately become oil minister. (Image source: Saudi Aramco)Saudi Arabia’s King Salman named health minister Khalid A. Al-Falih chairman of Saudi Aramco replacing oil minister Ali Al-Naimi, according to local reports

However, it was not clear if he would continue to serve as president and CEO of the national oil giant, Reuters reported.

“I don’t think there’s been any disagreement about the idea of keeping up production, maintaining market share, refusing to be a swing producer,” Clement M. Henry, professor at Middle East Institute, National University of Singapore, said.

Mohammad Al Sabban, former senior adviser to Saudi oil Minister Ali al-Naimi, added that there would be no change in the country’s oil policy at all. “The policy is not subject to change at every Cabinet reshuffle.”

Oil prices dipped on Wednesday as oversupply outweighed any political uncertainty in Saudi Arabia.

The move was part of a major reshuffle in the kingdom that also saw King Salman appoint interior minister Mohammed bin Nayef as his new heir, replacing the monarch’s half brother Prince Muqrin.

The post of Saudi Aramco chairman had been held by Al-Naimi for 20 years. Al-Falih, who became Saudi Aramco CEO in 2009 after a 30-year career in the company, was for long considered a possible successor to Al-Naimi as oil minister.

Al-Naimi, 79, has been Saudi Arabia oil minister since 1995 and has witnessed several oil price crashes in his tenure. He was the driving force behind OPEC’s decision last November not to cut production to support prices, which have halved since June 2014, but rather fight for market share.

Earlier this year, King Salman promoted his son Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman to the role of deputy oil minister from assistant oil minister.

Al-Falih, mechanical engineer, has created new business units at Saudi Aramco and has plans to widen the company’s focus from crude production to emphasise its role in producing gas, chemicals and refined products as well as renewable energy.

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