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Saudi Arabia denies report it is discussing oil production increase
Saudi officials on Monday denied reports the kingdom is backtracking on planned cuts to oil production after The Wall Street Journal reported Riyadh is mulling an increase.
“It is well known, and no secret, that OPEC+ does not discuss any decisions ahead of its meetings,” Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said Monday through state news agency SPA. “The current cut of 2 million barrels per day by OPEC+ continues until the end of 2023 and if there is a need to take further measures by reducing production to balance supply and demand, we always remain ready to intervene.”
In its initial report Monday, the WSJ reported Saudi Arabia and other OPEC member nations are considering stepping up oil production by up to 500,000 barrels a day ahead of the organization’s Dec. 4 meeting.
In October, OPEC+ announced the original 2 million-barrel cut, sparking fears in the west that it could send gas prices spiraling and throw a lifeline to Russia as it faces the loss of energy revenues due to sanctions.
A number of congressional Democrats called for changes to the U.S.-Saudi relationship after the announcement, saying the West has worked with the Saudis despite concerns over human rights abuses, the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and a possible Saudi role in the 9/11 attacks with the understanding that the kingdom would act as a strategic ally.
However, days ago the U.S. said in court that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman should receive sovereign immunity in a lawsuit over Khashoggi’s killing, seemingly signaling that the Biden administration is not prepared to drastically overhaul the relationship. As gas prices climbed over the summer, President Biden, who has been a vocal critic of the Saudi government’s human rights record, met with the crown prince, drawing criticism from human rights advocates.
The OPEC+ meeting is also set to take place a day before the Group of Seven nations introduce a plan to cap the price of Russian oil in response to the invasion of Ukraine. Russia, an OPEC+ nation, has said it will not sell to any nation participating in the price cap.
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