Oil investors are closely watching the health of Saudi Arabia's king, who was hospitalized Wednesday. However, while some wonder about how an eventual change in leadership might impact the global oil markets, two Middle East experts told CNBC they don't expect much difference in how a new monarch would govern.
"They'll pursue the same security arrangements with the United States. They'll maintain Saudi Arabia's commitment to fight the Islamic State. They'll also be pumping oil because there are broader strategic interests the kingdom is pursuing," David Phillips, former senior advisor to the State Department and a CNBC contributor, said in an interview with "Street Signs."
King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, thought to be 91, was admitted to the hospital on Wednesday for medical tests, according to state media, citing a royal court statement. A source told Reuters he had been suffering from breathing difficulties, but was feeling better and in stable condition.
The news sent the Saudi stock exchange down as much as 5 percent, before it recovered slightly to close almost 3 percent lower.
The king has "been in bad health for the past several years," and the government has been anticipating his passing for some time, said Phillips, now the director of the Peace-building and Human Rights Program at Columbia University.
"There are policies and personalities in place in order to maintain continuity," he added.
Abdullah named his half brother, Prince Salman, 13 years his junior, heir apparent in June 2012 after the death of Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz. Earlier this year he appointed Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz as deputy crown prince.