Shakeup at the world’s largest oil exporter
Saudi King Salman earlier this week changed the line of royal succession in the Kingdom, leaving the Saudi throne with a new generation after his passing. The shifts in power did not stop with the royal family, however. On Wednesday, King Salman also announced the appointment of Khalid al-Falih, formerly the CEO of Saudi Aramco, to the position of Saudi Aramco Chairman and the country’s health minister.
The move has left some speculating that al-Falih may be the next in line to replace Ali al-Naimi as oil minister. Al-Naimi, who served both as Aramco’s CEO and chairman before taking the position of oil minister in 1995, has said that he plans to retire soon, reports The Wall Street Journal.
The position of Saudi oil minister has often been seen as very powerful post in global oil markets. In November of last year, al-Naimi led the push to maintain OPEC production that sent prices into a tailspin globally.
Al-Falih became president and CEO of Saudi Aramco in January 2009 and worked to make the company a global innovator. “We want to become a competitive global player that not only leverages the best technologies, but also develops and produces them,” he said in 2011. He created several new units at the company, beefing up its acquisitions unit, expanding its refining capacity and working to make Aramco more responsive to the country’s growing energy consumption.
Big changes at Saudi Aramco
Former Senior Vice President Amin al-Nasser will be taking over al-Falih’s position as president and CEO of Saudi Aramco, the company announced on its twitter account Friday morning. Al-Nasser served as vice president of petroleum engineering and development, business line head of exploration and production, and finally as E&P senior vice president, before being promoted to president and CEO.
Also on Friday, the Al Arabiya television network announced that Sudi Arabia’s Supreme Economic Council approved the restructuring of Saudi Aramco, separating the company from the oil ministry. The restructuring was proposed by the newly appointed Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, King Salman’s son.
The Supreme Economic Council is a new agency established by King Salman earlier this year to replace the Supreme Petroleum Council, which previously helped to establish the country’s oil policy. Deputy Crown Prince Salman will lead the new council. Mohammad al-Sabban, a former senior adviser to al-Naimi, said the move would allow the company to have more flexibility to make decisions on a commercial basis, and keep full financial control.
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