The United States has quietly asked Saudi Arabia and several other OPEC nations to raise oil production by some 1 million bpd, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, quoting people familiar with the matter.
While the U.S. government has often expressed opinion against OPEC’s oil price-fixing policies—including a recent comment by President Trump, asking for a specific amount of oil production boost is a rare move, Bloomberg’s sources noted.
It’s not clear how the U.S. request has been conveyed, and the White House declined to comment on conversations. Yet, a spokesperson for the U.S. National Security Council told Bloomberg:
“We welcome any market-based action that increases energy access and fosters a healthy global economy.”
Back in April, when oil prices hit a three-and-a-half year highs, U.S. President Donald Trump slammed OPEC for manipulating oil prices in a tweet saying that oil prices were “artificially very high” and “will not be accepted.”
“Looks like OPEC is at it again. With record amounts of Oil all over the place, including the fully loaded ships at sea, Oil prices are artificially Very High! No good and will not be accepted!” President Trump said on Twitter on April 20.
Oil prices then further jumped in May after the U.S. withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal and re-imposed sanctions on Iran that will kick in later this year. Related: Shale Bottlenecks Could Send Oil Prices Higher
Concerns over a potential loss of some of Iran’s oil exports and the collapsing Venezuelan production supported an oil price rally for most of May, until reports emerged at the end of last month that OPEC’s largest producer Saudi Arabia and its key non-OPEC partner in the production cut deal, Russia, were discussing lifting the combined oil production of the countries from the pact by some 1 million bpd, potentially easing the cuts in response to supply concerns amid rising oil prices.
OPEC, and Saudi Arabia specifically, have assured in recent weeks that they would address “consumer and market anxiety” if need be, as gasoline prices around the world reached their highest in four years.
In the United States, national average gasoline prices approached $3 per gallon ahead of Memorial Day weekend, the highest price ahead of the Memorial Day weekend since 2014, the EIA says, and expects regular gasoline prices during the summer season—April through September—to average $2.90 a gallon this year, which would be 49 cents higher than last summer.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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