The Politics of Oil

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Saudi Arabia rejected US criticism over a decision by the Saudi-led oil-producing cartel and its allies to cut production amid a global energy crisis exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, the Washington Post reported Thursday.

The kingdom’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement Thursday saying that last week’s decision by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its partner nations – collectively known as OPEC Plus – was based solely on “economic considerations.”

The statement also suggested that the US had urged Saudi Arabia to postpone for a month the decision to cut oil output, which would have delayed the fallout from the cuts until after the US midterm elections. Such a delay, the statement said, “would have had negative economic consequences.”

On Oct. 5, Saudi Arabia and OPEC Plus members – including Russia – agreed to cut oil output by two million barrels a day, which could spike oil prices worldwide.

The decision sparked criticism from the US, which had been pressuring the oil-rich kingdom to produce more oil to compensate for the worldwide shortage and soaring prices caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Many observers also considered the move to be a blow to the Biden administration ahead of a tough winter and a month before the US midterm elections. At the same time, Biden made a highly criticized visit to the kingdom, seen by critics as rewarding the Saudi leadership despite widespread human rights abuses.

Meanwhile, the Saudi reaction came shortly after the Biden administration announced it would be reviewing the US-Saudi relationship, saying there would be “consequences” for the kingdom.

In its response, Saudi Arabia denied the decision was “politically motivated” and that the cuts amounted to siding with Russia.

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