OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia replaces energy minister: state media

Saudi Arabia's incoming energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman (L) is seen as likely to resist taking on further production cuts (AFP Photo/JOE KLAMAR)

Riyadh (AFP) - OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia named King Salman's son as energy minister after sacking veteran oil official Khalid al-Falih, state media said early Sunday.

"Khalid al-Falih has been removed from his position," the official Saudi Press Agency said, citing a royal decree.

"His royal highness Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman is appointed minister of energy."

Prince Salman is the king's son and the brother of powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Falih's dismissal comes just days after he was removed as chairman of state-owned oil giant Aramco as the company prepares for a much-anticipated initial public offering (IPO).

He was replaced in that post by Yasir al-Rumayyan, governor of the kingdom's vast Public Investment Fund.

Falih also saw his portfolio shrink as the kingdom reels from low oil prices.

Last month the world's top oil exporter announced the creation of a new ministry of industry and mineral resources, separating it from his energy ministry.

The shakeup comes as Aramco steps up efforts to float around five percent of the company, in what could potentially be the world's biggest stock sale.

It aims to raise up to $100 billion based on a $2 trillion valuation of the company, but amid low oil prices investors have debated whether Aramco is really worth that much.

Failure to reach a $2 trillion valuation as desired by Saudi rulers is widely considered the reason the IPO, earlier scheduled for 2018, has been delayed.