Energy & Environment

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 Pompeo 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 Murkowski (R-Alaska), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), reads.  

“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. 

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.

Tags Dan Sullivan Energy Jim Inhofe John Hoeven Kevin Cramer Lisa Murkowski Mike Pompeo oil OPEC Saudi Arabia

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