WASHINGTON/RIYADH: The Trump administration will appoint Victoria Coates as special energy representative to Saudi Arabia as Washington struggles to deal with a global oil price crash that has been dragging on the economy and threatening US energy producers, an Energy Department official said on Monday.
Coates, who was one of President Donald Trump’s longest-serving security aides, moved from the White House in February to become a senior adviser to Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette.
“Coates will be based in Saudi Arabia to ensure the Department of Energy has an added presence in the region,” the official said. “While her assignment comes at a pivotal time for global oil markets, it has been in the works for a while.” Coates’ start date is unknown due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Trump, who is running for re-election in November, has said he wants to find a medium ground regarding the oil price crash. Earlier in March, he tweeted that low gasoline prices were good for drivers.
US crude oil edged higher in after-hours trading on Monday to nearly $24 a barrel, after tumbling 29% last week in its steepest slide since the outset of the US-Iraq Gulf War in 1991.
An art historian and a former blogger for the conservative website RedState, Coates advised Senator Ted Cruz on foreign policy in his 2016 campaign for president. Under Trump, she was a deputy national security adviser on the national security council, and helped to implement his Middle East policy.
Coates will work in the kingdom for months at least alongside State Department officials and an existing energy attache, Scott Hutchins.