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Saudis Look To Enrich Uranium For Nuclear Power Program

Saudis Look To Enrich Uranium For Nuclear Power Program”

It has also undergone a major shake-up in its oil sector, announcing the replacement of energy minister Khalid al-Falih with Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman in the early hours of Sunday morning ahead of a much-anticipated stock listing of state oil giant Aramco.

Vision 2030, which the crown prince unveiled in April 2016, aims to develop public-service sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation and tourism, and to steer the Saudi economy away from its dependence on oil and gas, which now accounts for about half of its gross domestic product.

The change in leadership may offer a "signal that we could see a possible shift in strategy at the September 12th OPEC+ strategy meeting in Abu Dhabi", said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at Oanda, in an email update.

The market is no longer governed by supply and demand but is being influenced more by US-China trade tensions and geopolitical factors, he said.

"He is the institutional memory of the Saudi oil policy and OPEC".

A banker close to Saudi Aramco said the oil company was focused on driving through the IPO this year.

As well as being responsible for oil production policy, Al-Falih was chairman of state oil company Aramco and led planning for its IPO.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, a longtime top energy ministry official, is an older half-brother to the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

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The issue of uranium enrichment has been a sticking point with Washington, especially after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in 2018 that the kingdom would develop nuclear arms if regional rival Iran were to.

"I'm not here to pre-empt the meeting that will be held in two days", he said. The surge in USA shale production over the last five year has put Saudi Arabia and its allies on the back foot, forced to concede market share to shore up prices.

To keep oil prices from sliding even further, al-Falih led Saudi Arabia's curb on production in OPEC and the oil cartel's agreement with other major oil producers, like Russian Federation, to cut production in past years.

Prince Abdulaziz said yesterday that the pillars of Saudi policy would not change and a global deal to cut oil production by 1.2 million barrels per day would survive "with the will of everybody".

"Falih has paid the price for an oil price that remains stubbornly beneath the US$70-80 range needed in Saudi Arabia - and for the persistent weakness of the kingdom's economy", said Derek Brower, a director at RS Energy Group.

"It would be wrong from my end to pre-empt the rest of the OPEC members".

The energy minister's job has always been viewed as one of the most secure government positions in the kingdom and above internal politics, reflecting Saudi Arabia's position as the world's top oil exporter and swing producer. In 2017, he was appointed minister of state for energy affairs.



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