- High-level US official
- Former Aramco executive
- American businessman in Saudi Arabia
- 3 prominent Indian businessmen in UAE
NOPEC Isn’t Going to Happen
A bipartisan measure called the “No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act” was approved by a congressional committee last week. It sounds ominous, but it does not have teeth. It basically removes the sovereign immunity protection of OPEC countries, leaving it open to civil suits alleging antitrust violations. While there is some momentum behind the law, it still has the potential to die before it reaches a full vote in Congress. Basically, the law would allow the US government to sue OPEC nations for improperly controlling prices through oligopolistic practices.
While NOPEC has been a threat tossed around by Trump and meant to lend the appearance of power against the Saudis, our high-level sources say that officials in the Trump administration are leaning toward fighting any attempt to put this law into place.
While Trump has been critical of OPEC, advisers from the State Department and elsewhere in his government are cautioning that allowing such a law to go through could upend Middle East peace talks led by Jared Kushner, as well as relations with Persian Gulf allies like Saudi Arabia. Diplomats on the ground in the Gulf have told us this is a done deal already, and is not going to happen.
Trump hasn't weighed in with a final decision, but our sources say it will be ‘no to NOPEC’, and the likelihood is that he will keep using the lack of a final decision as leverage to have over the heads of Gulf countries to keep prices low.
Aramco Pushes Ahead in Nonsense Deal for IPO Cash
Aramco’s board is meeting this week to approve an international bond to fund the acquisition of a 70% stake in petrochemicals major Sabic. The acquisition is part of efforts to make Aramco more attractive for foreign investors when the time comes to list. The latest update from Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih is that the IPO will take place in 2021. The bond, Aramco’s first on the international market, also raised questions: such a bond will require the notoriously opaque company to disclose a lot of financial details to whet investors’ appetite to participate.
Behind the scenes, it’s important for investors to understand that Aramco is rather toxic right now. And it was the Saudi ‘deep state’…