Saudi Arabia replaces energy czar with prince as oil prices slump
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Saudi Arabia replaces energy czar with prince as oil prices slump

King’s son Abdulaziz bin Salman named energy minister after Khalid al-Falih sacked amid uncertainty surrounding Aramco IPO

Abdulaziz Bin Salman speaks during a news conference after a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, at their headquarters in Vienna, Austria, on Thursday, Oct. 14, 2010. (AP/Ronald Zak)
Abdulaziz Bin Salman speaks during a news conference after a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, at their headquarters in Vienna, Austria, on Thursday, Oct. 14, 2010. (AP/Ronald Zak)

OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia named King Salman’s son as energy minister after sacking veteran oil official Khalid al-Falih, state media said early Sunday.

“Khalid al-Falih has been removed from his position,” the official Saudi Press Agency said, citing a royal decree.

“His royal highness Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman is appointed minister of energy.”

Prince Salman is the king’s son and the brother of powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Falih’s dismissal comes just days after he was removed as chairman of state-owned oil giant Aramco as the company prepares for a much-anticipated initial public offering.

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources, Khalid Al-Falih speaks during a press conference in Riyadh, on December 20, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / FAYEZ NURELDINE)

He was replaced in that post by Yasir al-Rumayyan, governor of the kingdom’s vast Public Investment Fund.

Falih also saw his portfolio shrink as the kingdom reels from low oil prices.

Feb. 26, 1997 file photo showing official of the Saudi oil company Aramco watching progress at a rig at the al-Howta oil field near Howta, Saudi Arabia. (AP/John Moore)

Last month the world’s top oil exporter announced the creation of a new ministry of industry and mineral resources, separating it from his energy ministry.

The shakeup comes as Aramco steps up efforts to float around five percent of the company, in what could potentially be the world’s biggest stock sale.

It aims to raise up to $100 billion based on a $2 trillion valuation of the company, but amid low oil prices investors have debated whether Aramco is really worth that much.

Failure to reach a $2 trillion valuation as desired by Saudi rulers is widely considered the reason the IPO, earlier scheduled for 2018, has been delayed.

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