US launches last ditch effort to dissuade OPEC from cutting oil production

    ECONOMICS  05 October 2022 - 12:15

    The Biden administration has launched a full-scale pressure campaign in a last-ditch effort to dissuade Middle Eastern allies from dramatically cutting oil production, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.

    The push comes ahead of Wednesday’s (October 5) crucial meeting of OPEC+, the international cartel of oil producers that is widely expected to announce a significant cut to output in an effort to raise oil prices. That in turn would cause US gasoline prices to rise at a precarious time for the Biden administration, just five weeks before the midterm elections, according to CNN.

    For the past several days, President Joe Biden’s senior-most energy, economic and foreign policy officials have been enlisted to lobby their foreign counterparts in Middle Eastern allied countries including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE to vote against cutting oil production.

    Members of the Saudi-led oil cartel and its allies including Russia, known as OPEC+, are expected to announce production cuts potentially up to more than one million barrels per day. That would be the largest cut since the beginning of the pandemic and could lead to a dramatic spike in oil prices.

    Some of the draft talking points circulated by the White House to the Treasury Department on Monday that were obtained by CNN framed the prospect of a production cut as a “total disaster” and warned that it could be taken as a “hostile act.”

    “It’s important everyone is aware of just how high the stakes are,” said a US official of what was framed as a broad administration effort that is expected to continue in the lead-up to the Wednesday OPEC+ meeting.

    The White House is “having a spasm and panicking,” another US official said, describing this latest administration effort as “taking the gloves off.” According to a White House official, the talking points were being drafted and exchanged by staffers and not approved by White House leadership or used with foreign partners.

    In a statement to CNN, National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said, “We’ve been clear that energy supply should meet the demand to support economic growth and lower prices for consumers around the world and we will continue to talk with our partners about that.”

    For Biden, a dramatic cut in oil production could not come at a worse time. The administration has for months engaged in an intensive domestic and foreign policy effort to mitigate soaring energy prices in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. That work appeared to pay off, with US gasoline prices falling for almost 100 days in a row.

    But with just a month to go before the critical midterm elections, US gasoline prices have begun to creep up again, posing a political risk the White House is desperately trying to avoid. As US officials have moved to gauge potential domestic options to head off gradual increases over the last several weeks, the news of major OPEC+ action presents a particularly acute challenge.

    Watson, the NSC spokesperson declined to comment on the midterms, saying instead, “Thanks to the President’s efforts, energy prices have declined sharply from their highs and American consumers are paying far less at the pump.”

    Caliber.Az




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