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Saudi Arabia announces shake-up as oil prices hit nine-month low

In a bloodless and gore-less real-life version of Game of Thrones, 81-year-old King Salman made his son, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, heir to the Saudi throne

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King Salman as he appears on he local currency

The move can’t have been coincidental. Oil prices move into bear market territory and a Saudi crown prince is removed from office to be replaced by a young pretender intent on weaning the country off oil.

In a bloodless and gore-less real-life version of Game of Thrones, 81-year-old King Salman made his son, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, heir to the Saudi throne.

It means the 31-year-old effectively unseats his cousin, crown prince Muhammad bin Nayef.

Don’t expect things to change overnight – in fact Prince Mohammed is known to be impulsive and wants to exert Saudi interest across the region, which may add a layer of risk to the appointment, experts say.

No change for the time being

The news agency Bloomberg quoted Helima Croft, former CIA analyst and now head of commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets.

She said the promotion “will likely mean minimal change to oil-production policy,” though it could lead to more aggressive foreign policy measures “that bring back the political risk premium” to crude prices.

Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at Energy Aspects, added: "Even if foreign policy were to remain aggressive, we don't see any change in oil policy yet.

“If anything, with the initial public offering (IPO) the center stage, the Kingdom needs higher prices," she told CNBC via email on Wednesday, referring to the public listing of Aramco, Saudi's national oil and gas company, planned for 2018.”

Brent crude has dipped to a nine-month low and below US$46 a barrel on over-supply fears.

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