Saudi Arabia has for a first time in history appointed a member of the royal family as the country’s energy minister, a move which could spark concerns about the balance of power in the kingdom and lead to more politicized policy-making in the oil sector.
Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman appointed as energy minister, replacing Khalid al-Falih, a key man in Saudi Arabia’s oil and energy industry, news report.
Abdulaziz, a son of the king, has been a deputy energy minister for years and has enjoyed decades of experience in the sector by representing Saudi Arabia as a member of the country’s delegation to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), a major oil cartel where Riyadh holds huge sway.
However, the Sunday appointment could cause some concerns about the stability of oil-related decisions in Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter.
None of Saudi Arabia’s energy ministers since 1960 has been a royal as the ruling Al Saud family has always sought to avoid appointing one of its members to the post due to concerns it might create about balance of power in the dynasty.
The appointment also comes a month after Saudi Arabia took some of the powers off the super-ministry of energy and gave it to the newly-established ministry for industry and mineral resources.
It also comes a week after Yasser al-Rumayyan replaced former energy minister Falih as chairman of state oil giant Aramco.