Abdulaziz bin Salman, head of Saudi Arabia’s oil

prince Abdulaziz Bin Salman Saudi Arabia has spent most of his time as Minister of Energy. But just six days after becoming the first member of the royal family to assume this role, the country’s oil production was cut in half due to a series of drone and missile attacks that set the world’s largest crude oil processing facility on fire.

Right attack Abqaiq in September 2019Riyadh and Washington blamed the incident on Iran. This was an early test of Prince Abdulaziz, the son of King Salman and the co-worker of the country’s notorious Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Half-brothers.

With oil prices soaring by 20%, the prince took a private jet from London to the eastern provinces of Saudi Arabia. He soon announced that the kingdom would be able to repair the damage while maintaining oil supplies.

Oil traders watched the price reversal. However, although Prince Abdulaziz may be lucky in this situation, testing has hardly stopped since.

In less than two years, he had to deal with the controversial public listing of Saudi Aramco at the end of 2019; the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic; the subsequent brief price war with Russia; and then President Donald Trump called on the kingdom to change course And led the record reduction in global oil production.

His supporters say that the 61-year-old prince has been married for 34 years and gave birth to three children in his 20s. It turns out that he is qualified for this task. “If it weren’t for his experience, any of these incidents would have overwhelmed the Minister of Energy,” said Bassam Fattouh of the Oxford Institute of Energy Research, of whom Prince Abdulaziz is a member of the board of directors.

But for his critics, Prince Abdulaziz has his flaws, including downplaying the two biggest tests lurking behind the scenes.

Rising oil prices-Brent crude oil climbs to the top USD 70 per barrel This week-when inflation concerns resurfaced, it was not generally welcomed.This week he dismissed the International Energy Agency’s “roadmap” for a net-zero future because he came from La la land In an industry that ultimately takes climate change seriously, he is at odds with the shift in mood.

At such moments, his soft-spoken diplomatic appearance often slips to show a completely arrogant and acrimonious response to criticism or suspicion, which is more in line with his royal status. “You never know what kind of Abdulaziz you will get,” said a senior OPEC representative.

Prince Abdulaziz is slender, wears glasses and has an academic atmosphere, presenting himself as a low-key but shrewd negotiator who wants to reach a consensus. People close to him said that he worked for many years of technocrats such as former ministers Ali Al Naimi and Khalid Al Falih, even though he was a prince with great privileges , But still shows his temperament.

However, he likes to be the focus of everyone’s attention at press conferences, and uses his position as the de facto head of OPEC and directly enters the Saudi royal family to achieve his own goals.

Last year, he warned traders who dared to bet on Saudi Arabia’s oil policy that they would “sorrow.” He said this week that he wanted to “give in” the “speculators” in the oil market.

He has pushed other OPEC member states to increase their compliance with supply agreements. But he also praised those who did this. At an OPEC meeting, after Iraq was close to reaching its goal, Iraq, which was often behind, won enthusiastic applause.

Christian Malik, head of petroleum research at JPMorgan Chase, said: “He likes the unpredictability-to some extent, it is calculated unpredictability.”

When he was asked to respond to political actions taken by the kingdom, things became more difficult, and it was usually Prince Mohammed that was his effective boss.

At the Davos summit last year, a British television camera crew sought a response to the claim that Prince Mohammed was involved in the hacking of Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos’ mobile phone. When Prince Abdulaziz was chased in the hallway, he called the series of questions “ridicule” and the reporter “stupid”, and then briefly unplugged his microphone.

He barely commented on the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The United States believes that it was approved by Prince Mohammed, but according to people who know Prince Abdulaziz, their relationship is not close. .

His allies prefer to focus on his role in reforming the domestic power sector and professionalizing the relationship between Saudi Aramco and the Ministry of Energy.

However, even though Occidental Petroleum withdrew its fossil fuel investments under the pressure of climate change, the country has hardly hedged its bets.

Prince Mohammed hoped that the Saudi Arabian economy would get rid of its dependence on oil, but Prince Abdulaziz saw an opportunity to increase production capacity. He believed that the world always needs a rich source of cheap fuel.

Energy Aspects analyst Amrita Sen said that Prince Abdulaziz was “thinking about the challenges facing the world.” “He really cares about the energy industry very much. He has reflected on a lot of these issues.”

However, as proposed in the IEA’s net-zero roadmap, any effort to curb new oil projects is impossible.

“Who put that scene [together]”Prince Abdulaziz said this week, “out of touch with reality. “

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About the Author: Agnes Zang