Khalid al-Falih is Saudi Arabia’s new energy minister

khalidfalihKhalid al-Falih is the new chairman of Saudi Aramco. (Image source: Wikipedia Commons)Saudi Arabia recently appointed Khalid al-Falih, chairman of the state oil giant Saudi Aramco, as its new energy minister, replacing Ali al-Naimi, who had held the post since 1995

According to Reuters, the change is unlikely to mean a shift in Saudi Arabian oil policy, which is being crafted to a large degree by deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who oversees the Kingdom’s energy and economic policies.

Since 2014, Saudi Arabia has led OPEC through a new survival-of-the-fittest strategy aimed at defending market share rather than reducing production to support oil prices. Riyadh believes that cheap crude alone can balance the market by stimulating demand and shutting down high-cost producers.

Falih’s appointment, part of a major economic shakeup, is only likely to strengthen this strategy rather than lead to any change in thinking, analysts say.

“The oil policy is not al-Naimi’s personal policy, it is the Kingdom’s policy,” said Richard Mallinson, senior analyst at Energy Aspects.

“Falih appears very firmly of the view that the market needs to be balanced through low oil prices. All the statements about the Saudis having the capacity and being able to wait for that recovery to come, it signals that he is comfortable with the current policy.”

Meanwhile, Petroleum Ministry had been renamed the Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources, and Falih would give up his other post as that of the health minister.

The Ministry of Electricity has been merged into the energy portfolio, the decree said.

“The appointment of Falih has been expected for some time,” said Saddad al-Hosseini, a Saudi Arabia energy consultant. “He has the right industrial and executive experience to lead the reorganisation of the energy and electricity sectors.”

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