Oil rises for fifth day on expectations of extended output cuts

It’s the first time that a royal family member has been given the charge of this important ministry. — AFP  File

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, appointed at the weekend after the dismissal of Khalid Al-Falih, said there won't be any radical change in the kingdom's oil policy.

"The change at the helm of the Energy Ministry holds the potential to focus on further supporting oil prices, in line with budgetary or domestic purposes", Jean-Michael Sallba, Bank of America Merrill Lynch MENA economist/strategist, wrote from London. It is being speculated that he will maintain policy similar to predecessor al-Falih, who greenlit the aforementioned production cut deal.

The appointment of Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman as the new energy minister mirrors the ascent of his half-brother Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler.

Saudi Arabia's economy has been struggling with subdued growth after oil prices began to slump in 2015. -China trade war, and increased USA output.

Citing a copy of a document it had seen, the global news outlet said US Energy Secretary Rick Perry had granted six secret authorizations to companies to sell the know-how to the desert kingdom as part of a hoped-for broader deal on nuclear power.

Oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan on a three-nation visit courted the new Saudi Arabian minister in Jeddah.

"We are proceeding with it cautiously. we are experimenting with two nuclear reactors", Prince Abdulaziz said, referring to a plan to issue a tender for the Kingdom's first two nuclear power reactors.

"Although the outlook remains bleak, oil prices have remained anchored this week after a rapid response from Saudi Arabia, who is serious about stepping in to defend the oil price", Stephen Innes, managing partner at VM Markets Pte Ltd said in a note. Saudi Arabia's best option is to allow the adjustment process to play out.

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But there is a tension between lifting prices as high as possible to maximise short-term revenues and keeping them moderate to maximise medium-term and long-run earnings.

OPEC oil output rose in August, gaining for the first month this year as higher supply from Iraq and Nigeria outweighed restraint by Saudi Arabia and losses caused by us sanctions on Iran, a Reuters survey found.

The oil ministers of Oman and Iraq earlier told reporters in Abu Dhabi that it was too early to assess whether deeper cuts were required to support oil markets at a time of global recession concerns due to the US-China row.

Novak travelled to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to meet Prince Abdulaziz. "He is a bridge-builder, he's an astute diplomat".

Oil prices rose on Monday on his remarks.

But low oil prices have left some investors in doubt that Aramco is really worth that much. Crude prices have stabilized around $60 a barrel, about $20 below what the kingdom needs to balance its budget. Expected demand for OPEC crude next year of 29.4 MMbpd is below current production of 29.7 MMbpd, suggesting further cuts could be needed.

For Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Aramco IPO forms the cornerstone of a reform programme that aims to wean the Saudi economy off its reliance on fossil fuels.

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