New Saudi minister quips oil outlook could drive him to Prozac
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New Saudi minister quips oil outlook could drive him to Prozac

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman makes light of situation at international energy forum amid growing concerns about health of global oil market

Saudi Arabia's new Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, center, and United Arab Emirates Energy Minister Suhail al-Mazrouei, right, walk through an energy exhibition in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, September 9, 2019. (Jon Gambrell/AP)
Saudi Arabia's new Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, center, and United Arab Emirates Energy Minister Suhail al-Mazrouei, right, walk through an energy exhibition in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, September 9, 2019. (Jon Gambrell/AP)

ABU DHABI — Saudi Arabia’s Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman brought some humor to his debut as the kingdom’s new oil minister Monday, joking that the industry outlook could drive him to take Prozac if he took it seriously.

Speaking at an international energy forum in Abu Dhabi where he was the star of the show just a day after being appointed by his father King Salman, the new minister deflected concerns over the health of the energy sector.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) last week lowered its growth forecast for oil demand for 2019 and 2020, blaming the ugly US-China trade dispute which has triggered fears of a global recession.

“If I (am) to be concerned with IEA projections, I’ll probably be on Prozac all the time,” Prince Abdulaziz said with a laugh, referring to the well-known antidepressant.

Prince Abdulaziz, half-brother to de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is the first member of the royal family ever put in charge of the kingdom’s all-important energy ministry.

Storage tanks are seen at the North Jiddah bulk plant, an Aramco oil facility, in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, September 15, 2019 (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

A veteran of the industry with decades of experience, the prince — whose country is the de facto leader of the OPEC energy cartel — also made light of gloomy depictions of the global outlook.

“Do we have a recession today? No. They’re projecting a recession subject to a possible trade war. Where is it?” he told reporters on the sidelines of the conference.

“Do you really believe that the US and China and those other countries involved in this issue would not have the wisdom and sensibility to try and overcome these issues?”

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