OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia replaces energy minister with king’s son

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Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud signs documents during the 2019 budget meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Dec. 18, 2018. (Xinhua/REUTERS)

(AFP) – Saudi Arabia’s King Salman yesterday replaced the energy minister with one of his sons, state media said, in a major shakeup as the OPEC kingpin reels from low oil prices.

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The appointment of Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, half-brother to de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, marks the first time a royal family member has been put in charge of the all-important energy ministry.

He replaces veteran official Khalid al-Falih as the world’s top crude exporter accelerates preparations for a much-anticipated stock listing of state-owned oil giant Aramco, expected to be the world’s biggest.

“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.”

Since his appointment as oil minister in 2016, Mr Falih has been the face of Saudi energy policy but the veteran technocrat had seen his portfolio shrink in recent weeks.

His ouster comes just days after he was removed as chairman of Aramco and replaced by Yasir al-Rumayyan, governor of the kingdom’s vast Public Investment Fund.

Mr Falih’s powers were diminished last month when the world’s top oil exporter announced the creation of a new ministry of industry and mineral resources, separating it from his energy ministry.

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