OPEC Bids Farewell to Saudi Arabia Oil Chief
Saudi Arabia dismissed its long-serving oil minister Ali al-Naimi on Saturday, marking the departure of one of the industry’s most powerful figures, as the country grapples with weak oil prices.
Mr. Naimi, who had been the kingdom’s oil minister since 1995, has been a strong voice against lowering Saudi Arabia’s production when prices fall, a move away from its past tactics. He moved the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to keep pumping oil at a rapid clip despite a global supply glut, a decision that has weighed on crude-oil markets and depressed prices.
He will be succeeded by Khalid al-Falih, chairman of state oil company Saudi Arabian Oil Co., better known as Saudi Aramco.
Mr. Naimi, reached on his cellphone, declined to take questions. Mr. Falih couldn’t be reached for comment.
The royal decree, announced via state media, was part of a wider government reshuffle that includes a restructuring of the oil ministry, which has been renamed the Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources. It comes less than two weeks after Saudi Arabia unveiled an ambitious economic reform program aimed at reducing the kingdom’s dependence on oil revenue.
The collapse of oil prices has hit the world’s biggest energy companies hard and has hurt the budgets of oil-dependent countries. In Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, petroleum accounted for almost three-quarters of state revenues last year.
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