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New Saudi energy minister signals deal to stay

The new energy minister of Saudi Arabia, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, has signalled that the production-limiting deal between OPEC and partnering producers like Russia is likely to continue in the long term.

The minister was speaking in Abu Dhabi in what were his first public comments since a royal decree relieved the well-regarded Khalid al Falih and replaced him with the prince, who is the king’s eldest son and the half-brother of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The job of energy minister is usually given to someone outside the Saudi royal family.

The new energy minister did not rule out shifts in policy, however, but he did express that no radical changes are expected in the short term. He also said:

“We have always worked in a cohesive, coherent way within OPEC to make sure that producers work and prosper together. It would be wrong, from my end, to pre-empt the rest of the OPEC members.”

Market analysts speculate that Prince Abdulaziz may seek to pursue strategies to increase oil prices enough to balance the Kingdom’s budget. Increasing US oil production from shale operators like ExxonMobil, the supplier for Mobil stockists, has largely offset the OPEC-led production cuts and kept oil prices below the $70-80 range for much of this year.

The prince also reinforced that the country should be permitted to produce and enrich its own uranium for nuclear reactors as part of its broader goal to reduce its reliance on oil and gas for electricity generation.

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