Saudi Arabia’s Longest-Serving Oil Minister Dies At 90

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The driving force of the 1973 oil embargo, Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani, has died at age 90.

Yamani served as Saudi Arabia's Oil Minister from 1962 until 1986, when he was dismissed by Saudi King Fahd over differing opinions on the Kingdom's oil policies.

He is Saudi Arabia's longest-serving oil minister.

The simple explanation of the disagreement between the King and Yamani was that when it came to oil policy and delicate OPEC negotiations, Fahd wanted oil prices to be 25% higher and expected Yamani's OPEC negotiations to deliver that result. But Fahd was also disappointed with Yamani's inability to maintain Saudi Arabia's oil market share.

Yamani, on the other hand, was adamant that you couldn't have both higher prices and more market share.

The result of the spat, other than Yamani being removed from his post, was similar to what happened in March 2020. Saudi Arabia flooded the world with oil in an attempt to regain its market share.

Oil prices sank to just $8 per barrel.

When Yamani began his role as oil minister in 1962, the United States was the leading oil producer, with Saudi Arabia producing less than 2 million barrels per day. And Exxon and Chevron had control of most of the oil in Saudi Arabia. But that quickly changed as Saudi Arabia moved to nationalize its oil industry. Saudi Arabia's oil production quickly reached 10 million bpd during Yamani's tenure.

Chart courtesy of Dr. Anas Alhajji

Within oil circles, Yamani is known for increasing Saudi Arabia's spare production capacity and shaping oil policy—something that has no doubt changed the face of the oil industry, giving OPEC much of the clout is has today.

Outside the oil sphere, he is most widely known for his visible role in the 1973 oil embargo that saw crude oil and gasoline prices skyrocket.

"He will remain an integral part of the history of the oil industry that he played a significant role in shaping it, "Dr. Anas Alhajji said of Yamani on Twitter.

By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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