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In a U-turn from his previous position on Saudi Arabia, U.S. President Joe Biden is set to visit the world’s top crude oil exporter later this month, as soaring oil prices continue to increase the pain at the pump for American consumers who pay record-high prices for gasoline.
The decision for Biden’s visit comes after the OPEC+ group led by Saudi Arabia on Thursday decided to accelerate the monthly production increases to 648,000 barrels per day (bpd) in July and August, from the 432,000 bpd monthly hikes so far.
President Biden will likely travel to Saudi Arabia later in June, although details have not been finalized yet, a source with knowledge of the preparations told The Associated Press on Friday.
The visit and a likely meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman are a U-turn from Biden’s comments from the campaign trail when he criticized the crown prince and vowed to treat Saudi Arabia as a “pariah” state.
However, with record-high gasoline prices in America – at $4.761 a gallon nationwide on June 3 – the Biden Administration is desperate to bring relief to consumers and tame the highest inflation in 40 years ahead of the mid-term elections in November.
There have been reports in recent weeks that President Biden would travel to Saudi Arabia and that senior White House advisors have met in secret with senior Saudi officials to discuss a deal to increase oil production.
The White House praised Thursday’s decision of OPEC+ to raise the target production level more than planned, specifically mentioning Saudi Arabia’s role in this.
“We recognize the role of Saudi Arabia as the chair of OPEC+ and its largest producer in achieving this consensus amongst the group members. We also recognize efforts and positive contributions of UAE, Kuwait, and Iraq,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Thursday.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.