New Saudi minister jokes oil outlook could drive him to Prozac

Saudi Arabia's new energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman attends the World Energy Congress in Abu Dhabi on September 9, 2019 (AFP Photo/KARIM SAHIB)

Abu Dhabi (AFP) - Saudi Arabia's Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman brought some humour to his debut as the kingdom's new oil minister Monday, joking that the industry outlook could drive him to take Prozac if he took it seriously.

Speaking at an international energy forum in Abu Dhabi where he was the star of the show just a day after being appointed by his father King Salman, the new minister deflected concerns over the health of the energy sector.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) last week lowered its growth forecast for oil demand for 2019 and 2020, blaming the ugly US-China trade dispute which has triggered fears of a global recession.

"If I (am) to be concerned with IEA projections, I'll probably be on Prozac all the time," Prince Abdulaziz said with a laugh, referring to the well-known antidepressant.

Prince Abdulaziz, half-brother to de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is the first member of the royal family ever put in charge of the kingdom's all-important energy ministry.

A veteran of the industry with decades of experience, the prince -- whose country is the de facto leader of the OPEC energy cartel -- also made light of gloomy depictions of the global outlook.

"Do we have a recession today? No. They're projecting a recession subject to a possible trade war. Where is it?" he told reporters on the sidelines of the conference.

"Do you really believe that the US and China and those other countries involved in this issue would not have the wisdom and sensibility to try and overcome these issues?"