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Saudi king names Al-Falih Aramco chairman, replacing Al-Naimi

[KUWAIT/DUBAI] Saudi Arabia's King Salman named Khalid A Al-Falih as chairman of Saudi Arabian Oil, the world's biggest crude exporter, replacing Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi, according to state television.

Al-Falih, born in 1959, was also named health minister in a royal court statement published by the official Saudi Press Agency on Wednesday. He had been president and chief executive officer of Aramco. No replacement for that job was announced.

"Having Al-Falih as a full cabinet remember now does not preclude him from other ministerial positions including petroleum in the future," Mohammed al-Ramady, professor of economics at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, said by phone on Wednesday.

Al-Falih said on Jan 28 that Saudi Arabia won't "singlehandedly" balance global crude markets even if prices fall. Saudi Arabia has resisted calls from fellow members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries to trim output. OPEC kept its production target unchanged at a Nov 27 meeting, seeking to defend market share rather than support prices which fell about 50 per cent last year.

Al-Falih took office as president and chief executive officer of the company on January 1, 2009, according to the company's website. He spent his entire career at Aramco over a period of three decades.

Al-Falih earned a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M University in 1982. In 1991, he graduated with an MBA from the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.