Saudi Arabia seeks to enrich uranium for nuclear power, minister says

Oil rises as new Saudi minister commits to output cuts

The top manager of the Saudi state oil firm reiterated that it's up to the sole shareholder of the company - the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia - to decide when the listing will take place.

US oil gained more than 2% on Monday, while Brent finished the day 1.7% higher as the market reacted to the appointment by Saudi Arabia's king of his son, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, as energy minister on Sunday.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak plans to meet Saudi Arabia's new energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman on Tuesday in Jeddah, a spokesman for the energy ministry said on Tuesday. The government has since delayed the timing of the IPO, most recently to finalize a deal that saw Aramco acquire a almost $70 billion stake in Saudi petrochemicals firm SABIC. "But MbS has returned to the fore in the past few months".

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

Prince Abdulaziz said he wouldn't describe concerns over global trade tensions that are impacting oil prices as a "trade war", saying: "I'm fundamentally an optimist".

Saudi Arabia's new Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman speaks to journalists at the World Energy Congress in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

"Clearly, the Kingdom wants higher oil prices".

Prince Abdulaziz said: "It's all about the incremental contributions".

Saudi officials have said they would not sign a deal that would deprive the kingdom of the possibility of enriching uranium or reprocessing spent fuel in the future - both potential paths to a bomb.

"Worryingly, the government's attention appears to have shifted away from the deep structural reforms to the business environment and the labour market that are needed to overhaul the Saudi economy and reduce its reliance on oil", Turvey concluded. Crude prices have stabilized around $60 a barrel, about $20 below what the kingdom needs to balance its budget.

Khalid al-Falih was removed as energy minister. The global lender also projected the kingdom's budget deficit to widen, even as the government pushes ahead with sweeping economic reforms. Al-Rumayyan is a close adviser to the crown prince and heads the Public Investment Fund, the country's sovereign wealth fund. He also said he would endorse production cuts to help boost oil prices, which have been hit by the US-China trade war.

Bin Salman's remarks, which marked his debut since being named to one of the most important positions in the kingdom the previous day, have spooked nonproliferation experts, who warn such technology could allow Saudi Arabia to pursue a nuclear weapon amid heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S. over Tehran's program. "The new Saudi energy minister has not said anything that deviates from the previous policy".

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