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Prince Abdulaziz is a longstanding member of the top crude exporter’s delegation to the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) with decades of experience in the oil sector.
As a veteran of OPEC policy-making, Prince Abdulaziz is not expected to change the kingdom’s oil policy, since he helped negotiate the current agreement between OPEC and non-OPEC countries to cut global crude supply to support prices and balance the market, analysts say.
In 2017, he was named minister of state for energy affairs, and has worked closely with previous oil minister Ali al-Naimi as his deputy for years.
Some industry insiders say the prince’s lengthy experience has overcome what has always been seen as the impossibility of appointing a royal to the post of energy minister in Saudi Arabia.
The ruling Al Saud family viewed the oil portfolio as so important that giving it to a prince might upset the dynasty’s delicate balance of power and risk making oil policy hostage to princely politicking, Saudi sources and diplomats say.
Saudi Arabia has had five oil ministers since 1960, and none of them has been a royal.
Last month, Saudi Arabia created a ministry for industry and mineral resources, separating it from the kingdom’s colossal energy ministry.
Before the separation decision, Mr Falih had overseen more than half the Saudi economy through the super-ministry, which was created in 2016 to help streamline new reforms.
Last week, Mr Falih was also removed from his post as chairman of state oil giant Aramco.