Saudi Prince’s Elevation Will Have Far-Reaching Consequences in Energy

Supporters say the 31-year-old prince will bring youthful energy and a fresh eye to the kingdom’s most valuable export, using it to help modernize and diversify the economy. Detractors, however, charge that he is inexperienced and prone to meddling, undermining experienced officials and making sudden public pronouncements.

“The problem is he is unpredictable, and it is not clear who he is relying on for advice,” said Paul Stevens, a Middle East energy analyst at Chatham House, a research organization based in London.

Here’s how Prince Mohammed’s rise may affect oil prices, global energy production and the sale of shares in Saudi Aramco:

The prospect of falling prices

Oil prices are around $45 a barrel, continued their slide after the news of Prince Mohammed’s promotion.

That is down 20 percent since mid-April, and well off the levels in 2014 above $100 a barrel.

The main reason for the decline in prices, though, is that OPEC’s much-trumpeted production cuts seem to be having little impact on the persistent glut of oil for sale.

The higher prices resulting from OPEC cuts have prompted increased production from shale oil producers in the United States and by other rivals, undercutting the cartel’s actions.

Oil Prices: What to Make of the Volatility

Over the last two and a half years, the oil industry experienced its deepest downturn since at least the 1990s.


Flip-flopping Saudi energy prices

Prince Mohammed appears to have gone back and forth on oil strategy.

He initially declared that prices did not matter. But when they fell to uncomfortable levels early last year, he backed production cuts by OPEC and other producers, like Russia, as a way to prop up prices.

The Saudis and OPEC may now be headed for another crunch, and there do not seem to be any…

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