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Irina Slav

Irina Slav

Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.

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Will Trump Use Tariffs To Protect U.S. Oil?

“I would use tariffs, if I had to. I don’t think I’m going to have to,” U.S. President Trump told media on Sunday as quoted by CNBC, in response to questions regarding his next moves in propping up devastatingly low oil prices.

Trump has been consistent over the last week or so in his belief that despite difficulties, Saudi Arabia and Russia will reach a deal to reduce production. He has given no indication, however, that the United States is willing to take part in this production control effort, which may compromise its success.

At the same time, Trump’s position reflects the position of many U.S. shale producers: last week industry sources told the Financial Times that companies had launched a lobbying offensive with the White House to use any means necessary to force Russia and Saudi Arabia to cut production, including more sanctions on Russia and import tariffs on Saudi oil.

U.S. shale producers were among the hardest-hit players in the industry when Saudi Arabia launched its game of chicken with Russia announcing it would increase oil supply to 12.3 million bpd this month, boosting its production capacity to 13 million bpd. Yet now both Riyadh and Moscow seem to be reconsidering.

Riyadh has called on Western European oil producers to join this week’s OPEC+ meeting to discuss prices while Russia, according to a Bloomberg report, may be willing to cut close to a tenth of its March oil production, which stood at 11.3 million bpd, but only if the U.S. agrees to make its producers cut, too.

Trump has signalled he would prefer “the free market” to have the last word but it seems the free market could use some help. To be fair, Trump noted he did not expect it to come to tariffs.

“It’s obviously very bad for them,” Trump told media referring to the effect of low oil prices on Saudi Arabia and Russia. This, the U.S. president believes, will ultimately push the two to an agreement, which would benefit all producers.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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Leave a comment
  • peter farkas on April 06 2020 said:
    US export products produced from oil in millions bbl/day. What will happen to these companies if they will buy 30 USD/bbl more epxensive than their competitors.
  • Mamdouh Salameh on April 06 2020 said:
    President Trump is banking on a refusal by Russia and Saudi-led OPEC to make a 10 million barrels a day (mbd) cut without a big contribution from the United States.

    That was his game plan all along under his discredited ‘America first policy’ to justify imposing a tax or tariff on foreign crude oil exports to the United States to bail out US shale oil industry at the expense of foreign oil producers rather than US tax payers.

    The US shale oil industry has been since its inception in 2008 producing recklessly even at a loss just to enable the United States to have a say in the global oil market along with Russia and Saudi Arabia. In so doing it has been depriving most of the oil-producing nations of the world particularly those who overwhelmingly depend on the oil export revenues of their livelihood and also gaining market share at the expense of Russia and Saudi-led OPEC.

    It is only fair that the shale industry should share the pain with other oil-producing nations who are suffering badly from this state of events.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London
  • Jonas Christiansen on April 06 2020 said:
    How can tariffs solve an overproduction problem? This will probably cause the shale producers to increase their production, only making the problem worse. And what are the consequences of the US paying more for the crude oil than the rest of the world? The US producers of refined petro products will have to pay more for the crude oil than foreign producers, will Trump also use tariffs on imported petro products? How will other countries respond to this? Seems like a bad idea.
  • peter mueller on April 06 2020 said:
    That Idea is that bad - you should not even consider it. It will hit Canada and Mexico and partly Saudi Arabia. But Saudi Arabia has at the moment Weapons Orders for 440 Biilions pending. If that orders only partly will be cancelled, there will be big trouble in DC.
    Russia with very minor 0.5% Oil import in USA is not relevant at all.

    Canadians and Mexico would ad Tariffs to US Goods in case of US Tariffs for Oil. Not a good Ideas those are large importers. (Canada imports near 230 Billions USD)

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