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GOP senators urge Saudi Arabia to leave OPEC

GOP senators urge Saudi Arabia to leave OPEC
© Greg Nash

A group of Republican senators are saying that Saudi Arabia should leave OPEC and instead become a “free market energy powerhouse.”

The six senators wrote a letter to Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoBiden's State Department picks are a diplomatic slam dunk Kissinger tells Biden to go easy on China Saudi-Israeli diplomacy progresses amid looming Middle East challenges MORE urging him to make this case to the Saudis on Wednesday. 

“The Organization of Petroleum-Exporting Countries is a relic of a cartelized past, one that burdens the Kingdom with free-riders and forces it to shoulder the lion’s share of every production decision,” the letter, signed by Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiTrump transition order follows chorus of GOP criticism The Memo: Trump election loss roils right Whoopi Goldberg blasts Republicans not speaking against Trump: 'This is an attempted coup' MORE (R-Alaska), Kevin CramerKevin John CramerThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Calls mount to start transition as Biden readies Cabinet picks Pressure grows from GOP for Trump to recognize Biden election win Sunday shows - Virus surge dominates ahead of fraught Thanksgiving holiday MORE (R-N.D.), Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanTrump administration proposal takes aim at bank pledges to avoid fossil fuel financing McSally, staff asked to break up maskless photo op inside Capitol Capitol's COVID-19 spike could be bad Thanksgiving preview MORE (R-Alaska), James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeHouse Democrats back slower timeline for changing Confederate base names Barrasso to seek top spot on Energy and Natural Resources Committee Overnight Defense: Trump orders troop drawdown in Afghanistan and Iraq | Key Republicans call Trump plan a 'mistake' MORE (R-Okla.), John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Barrasso to seek top spot on Energy and Natural Resources Committee | Forest Service finalizes rule weakening environmental review of its projects | Biden to enlist Agriculture, Transportation agencies in climate fight Meadows meets with Senate GOP to discuss end-of-year priorities Senate advances energy regulator nominees despite uncertainty of floor vote MORE (R-N.D.) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), reads.  

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“The Kingdom should partner with the United States on strategic energy infrastructure projects across the Indo-Pacific region and in the Americas,” they added. “Riyadh should leave the antique OPEC cartel immediately and join the United States on the global stage as a free market energy powerhouse.”

Their letter comes as the kingdom has increased its oil production and flooded the oil market, resulting in a price drop that has hit U.S. producers. Saudi Arabia made that decision after Russia declined to join OPEC members in agreeing to cut production in response to the slowdown in demand from the coronavirus.

The senators also suggested that aid to Saudi Arabia should be threatened if Riyadh does not follow their wishes. 

“In addition to the various types of aid and assistance we already provide — none of which should ever be offered perpetually and unconditionally — we are reminded of the levers of statecraft the Administration is empowered to exercise,” the letter said. 

“From tariffs and other trade restrictions to investigations, safeguard actions, sanctions, and much else, the American people are not without recourse,” it continued. 

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The lawmakers also accused both Russia and Saudi Arabia of “economic warfare against the United States.”

A State Department spokesperson told The Hill in a Thursday email that Pompeo spoke with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Wednesday and that the department believes Saudi Arabia cares about the stability of the global oil market. 

The spokesperson also said that the department is stressing to oil producers the need to avoid market volatility. 

The letter follows recent comments by Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette, who said this week that the idea for Saudi Arabia to leave OPEC and form an alliance with the U.S. has been floated.