File - Saudi Arabia's King Salman is seen during U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Erga Palace in Riyadh January 27, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
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Saudi Arabia's subtle change in the lineup of energy policymaker since the accession of King Salman to the throne in late January appears to give the monarch's inner circle a tighter grip on the kingdom's oil strategy than previous rulers have enjoyed.The most notable change was the promotion of the king's son Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, long a member of the No. 1 oil exporter's OPEC delegation, to the role of deputy oil minister from assistant oil minister, a post he had held for many years.There is little merit in speculating about when Naimi, who turns 80 in August, will retire or whom Salman will choose to replace him.The new council has 22 minister members, including Naimi.However, by making royal court chief and Defense Minister Prince Mohammad, his 35-year-old son, the new economic council's chairman, King Salman has given a relatively unknown official a big voice in crafting Saudi oil policy.On Feb. 25, Naimi said oil demand was growing and markets were calm, indicating that he felt vindicated.
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