MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih has been completely removed from the board of directors of Saudi Aramco ahead of a long-awaited launch of an initial public offering (IPO), according to the state-owned oil company’s website.
“I congratulate my brother His Excellency Mr. Yasir Othman Al-Rumayyan, Governor of the Public Investment Fund, on his appointment as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Saudi Aramco, which comes as an important step to prepare the company for the public offering, wishing him every success”, Falih wrote on Twitter.
This is the second position the Saudi energy minister loses in less than a week. On Friday, the industry and mining function was separated from the Energy Ministry in a government reshuffle, creating the independent Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources in a move to diversify the state’s economy.
Earlier in the day, Saudi Aramco officially announced that the Saudi government replaced Falih from his position as Chairman of Saudi Aramco, appointing Governor of the Public Investment Fund (PIF) Yasir Al-Rumayyan to the role.
The move is aimed at separating the Saudi Energy Ministry from Saudi Aramco before the IPO to avoid conflict of interests. However, it was not clear if the minister would retain his place on the board of directors.
In order for Saudi Arabia to balance its budget, oil needs to trade at around $80 per barrel, according to various estimates. Falih has been working with OPEC+ partners, including Russia, to balance the oil market and raise the price since 2016, but have faced various challenges, including an increasing shale output in the United States, a US-China trade war, crises in Libya, Venezuela, and sanctions against Iran.
AFP 2019 / MARWAN NAAMANA flame from a Saudi Aramco (the national oil company) oil installation known as “Pump 3” burns brightly during sunset in the Saudi Arabian desert near the oil-rich area Al-Khurais, 160 kms east of the capital Riyadh
The plans for Saudi Aramco’s IPO as part of the kingdom’s Vision 2030 economic overhaul plan have been delayed a number of times. Last month, the oil giant unveiled a 12 percent drop in net income, to almost $47 billion, in comparison with the same period last year.