Ali al-Naimi, Saudi Arabia's longstanding oil minister, dismissed

Al-Naimi will be replaced by Khalid-al Falih, head of the country’s state oil company Saudi Aramco.
By Brooks Hays  |  Updated May 9, 2016 at 9:35 AM
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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, May 8 (UPI) -- Saudi leadership issued a royal decree dismissing the country's veteran oil minister, Ali al-Naimi.

Serving since 1995, al-Naimi's management of the world's largest oil market was respected by many economists and power players in the global oil industry. Some referred to him as the Alan Greenspan of the oil market, unafraid to slow or ramp up oil production when he believed it necessary to maintain a healthy oil commodities market.

But as oil prices have plunged, al-Naimi has been unable to reach a deal with Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries suppliers to pause production.

Al-Naimi will be replaced by Khalid al-Falih, head of the country's state oil company Saudi Aramco, who experts say is also well respected by oil industry leaders.

"Khalid al-Falih has been a key part of the team making these decision for many years," Jason Bordoff, director of Columbia University's Center on Global Energy Policy, told The Wall Street Journal. "It represents a continuation of the path they've been on."

The dismissal is part of a larger reshuffling of Saudi Arabia's oil ministry, which has been renamed Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources. The shuffling is part of a larger effort to institute economic reforms and assuage Saudi Arabia's reliance on oil revenues.

Though the move appears symbolic of the country's changing economic policy goals, it's also a confirmation of what many Middle Eastern political experts have suspected -- that Saudi Arabia's powerful Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is exerting an increasing amount of influence of the country's policy decisions.

"This guy is the new power broker in that country," Phil Flynn, a senior market analyst at Price Futures Group, told MarketWatch.

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