February 25, 2011 / 12:46 PM / 8 years ago

FACTBOX-Saudi oil ministers past and present

Feb 25 (Reuters) - Ali al-Naimi, in office since 1995, is only the fourth Saudi Arabia oil minister to date.

Here are some facts about his three predecessors.

ABDULLAH AL-TARIKI (1960-1962)

Al-Tariki was an early critic of the then U.S. consortium Aramco (Arabian-American Oil Company) and said it was unfair U.S. companies could explore, pump and sell Saudi’s oil with minimal consultation. He disagreed with the low returns Saudi Arabia received from them.

He found sympathisers in Venezuela, Iraq and Libya, and together with a fifth founder member Kuwait, they created the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in 1960, three months before his appointment as Saudi Arabia’s first oil minister.

Al-Tariki was dismissed after only two years in office following political disputes with Crown Prince Faisal.

AHMED ZAKI YAMANI (1962-1986)

Yamani, a Harvard-educated lawyer, is best known for his role during the 1973 oil embargo, which put OPEC on the map.

Yamani encouraged members of OPEC to cut the supply of oil in response to the fourth Arab-Israeli war, causing oil prices to roughly quadruple from around $2.50 a barrel in 1973 to above $10 in 1974.

For most of his time in office, however, he was a price moderate and U.S. ally, who found himself taken hostage as an “imperialist agent” by the notorious criminal Carlos the Jackal, who threatened to execute him.

Saudi’s policy of price moderation entailed seeking a price low enough to ensure long-term demand for its supplies, but not so low that producers cannot make a profit.

His 24-year tenure came to an abrupt end after a supply glut depressed the oil market, sending it below $10 a barrel.

HISHAM M. NAZER (1986-1995)

The appointment of Nazer followed a few months after Yamani’s summary dismissal and his challenge was to stabilise oil prices.

Nazer believed cutting output would help to boost world oil prices, but also said Saudi Arabia could not carry the burden alone and should not cut back if other nations over-produced.

In 1989, he replaced Amercian John J. Kelberer to become the first Saudi chief executive of Saudi Aramco (Saudi Arabian Oil Company), established in 1988.

Earlier, in 1980, Aramco had become 100-percent owned by Saudi Arabia.

Reporting by Catherine Ngai, Barbara Lewis; Editing by Jason Neely

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