Riyadh is making every effort to prevent Iran from increasing its oil market share at a time when Tehran is wooing old and new customers to return to pre-sanctions export levels, Amir Handjani, a member of the Board of Directors of the Dubai-based RAK Petroleum, told RT. This will generate further tensions between the two countries.
"Saudi Arabia wants to keep Iran in the penalty box," the analyst noted. Now that the oil kingdom has removed its longtime minister of petroleum and mineral resources, Ali al-Naimi, the rivalry between the Saudis and the Iranians will only get worse, he added.
Al-Naimi was removed after an agreement to freeze oil production between major oil producers fell through in Qatar. In a last-minute U-turn, Riyadh demanded that Iran (not present at the meeting) agree to the terms of the deal. Tehran refused.
Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia's deputy crown prince, is said to be the key person opposed to freezing output.
"It is clear that Mohammed bin Salman wants to confront Iran not just in the Middle East but in the energy markets," the analyst observed, saying it was hard to imagine that the deputy crown prince will back down now. "And certainly the Iranians are not going to back down either."
The Saudi deputy crown prince is also said to be the person behind a major government overhaul. Amir Handjani maintained that the reshuffle is another step in Mohammed bin Salman's efforts to tighten his "grip on power."