Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has issued a decree to dismiss the energy minister by replacing him with one of his sons as, the Saudi Press Agency reported Sunday.
According to the report, the king named Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman as the new minister, the first member of the ruling Al Saud family to hold the post.
The new energy minister is an older half-brother to the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, and an experienced oil industry figure in Saudi Arabia. He has been minister of state for energy affairs since 2017. The two brothers are not known to be close.
The issued royal decree also dismissed the deputy energy minister Abdulaziz al-Abdulkarim. Name of the new deputy energy minister is yet to be announced.
Al-Falih, who was named energy minister in 2016, also had seen his cabinet portfolio diminished in a royal decree last week creating a new ministry of mining and industry, removing that sector from the purview of the energy ministry.
The changes come as Saudi Arabia renews its push to sell shares in Aramco as part of a wider plan by the crown prince to overhaul the economy and prepare the country for a future less dependent on oil.
The kingdom’s new energy minister, Abdulaziz, was named deputy oil minister in 1995, a position he held for nearly a decade. He then served as assistant oil minister until 2017, when he was named minister of state for energy affairs, and has been a longstanding member of the country’s delegation to Opec.
Some industry insiders say the prince’s lengthy experience has overcome what has been seen as the impossibility of appointing a royal to the post of energy minister.
Conventional thinking has been that the ruling Al Saud family has 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, reports The Guardian.