Trump backs off claim of convicing Saudi Arabia to boost oil production

01 July, 2018, 12:56 | Author: Salvatore Jensen
  • Saudi King Salman speaks during a meeting of the Saudi Iraqi Bilateral Coordination Council with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in Riyadh Saudi Arabia. President

"It is becoming increasingly clear that Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation will struggle to compensate for potential losses in oil production from the likes of Venezuela, Iran and Libya", said Abhishek Kumar, analyst at Interfax Energy in London.

"Just spoke to King Salman of Saudi Arabia and explained to him that, because of the turmoil & disfunction [sic] in Iran and Venezuela, I am asking that Saudi Arabia increase oil production, maybe up to 2,000,000 barrels, to make up the difference", the U.S. president wrote on Twitter on Saturday.

The statement reported by Saudi media did not mention any intention by Saudi Arabia to raise production by 2 million bpd.

Oil prices have edged higher in recent months, as the Trump administration has pushed allies to end all purchases of oil from Iran following the USA pulling out of the nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, with ongoing unrest in Venezuela, as well as with fighting in Libya over control of that country's oil infrastructure. It did not elaborate.

The Trump administration is pushing countries to cut all imports of Iranian oil from November when the United States re-imposes sanctions against Tehran, after Trump withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal agreed between Iran and six major powers, calling it a "defective" agreement.

Benchmark Brent crude LCOc1 was around $79 a barrel on Friday and a Reuters poll showed prices look to remain strong for the rest of this year due to supply disruptions in countries including Libya and Venezuela and the extra oil from OPEC fails to meet rising demand.




An agreement by an OPEC member nation to increase oil output at the request of a US president would be a serious blow to that alliance of 15 oil-producing countries, which sets production quotas collectively, and has already shown fragility in recent days. Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih indicated the group's action would add almost 1 million bpd to the market. That would likely drive oil prices even higher.

Oil analysts and consultants nonetheless think the kingdom can produce more than 12 million bpd in an emergency through a so-called surge, in which oil fields are depleted beyond what engineers consider a reasonable rate. Expectations that this production increase won't be enough to stabilize these inventory levels are the primary driver behind last week's oil price surge. In reality, the output increase isn't expected to exceed 700,000 barrels per day because some members are already pumping at maximum capacity. But oil experts were cautious about whether that would actually reduce worldwide prices or raise anxiety further. Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, plans to pump as much as 11m barrels of oil per day from next month, an industry source told Reuters.

That would also make US oil producers happy.

FGE, an energy consultancy, said in its June newsletter that the U.S. is determined to "push Iran's exports to zero".

This week, a US State Department official said Washington would work with countries on a case-by-case basis to try and stop them importing Iranian oil. "He has agreed!" Trump added, without specifying the timeframe for the increased production or whether his two million figure referred to barrels per day. When Barack Obama sought to ramp up pressure on Iran, he sought "significant" reductions in other countries' purchases of Iranian oil and that meant about 20 percent cuts.

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