The Saudi Energy Minister, Khalid El Falih, met with key hedge-fund investors last month, Bloomberg reports.
The meetings represent a shift for the oil-producing giant. In the past, Saudi Arabia has accused hedge funds of creating a speculative oil market, but, with lagging oil prices and a Saudi Aramco IPO under consideration, the ministry appears to be softening its position, according to OilPrice.com.
This is the first time a Saudi Energy Minister has met directly with hedge-fund representatives.
The minister met with Pierre Andurand of Andurand Commodities Fund; Jonathan Goldberg, founder of BBL Commodities LP; Alex Beard, head of Glencore Plc.; and Michael Klein, former executive for Citigroup Inc. and head of the advisory firm, M. Klein & Co.
According to Bloomberg, El Falih sought the advice of the traders on how to deal with the ongoing oil-price slump and whether Saudi Arabia should conduct forward-price sales to undercut the US shale industry.
Traditionally Saudi Arabia has shied away from forward-price sales, but the minister broached the topic in the face of continued competition from US shale—an industry reliant upon forward-price sales.
The traders advised El Falih against entering the forward market, predicting it would lead to overall lower prices in the futures market.
Downplaying the significance the meetings, the Saudi Energy Ministry issued a public statement: “The Minister is a frequent traveler. As part of his travel schedule, he holds multiple meetings during his trips. We do not disclose the participants of these private meetings nor their content, if and when they happen.”
The other participants also declined to comment.