‘Total rejection’: Saudi denies any anti-US motive to OPEC+ cut

The US criticised the kingdom for insisting last week’s output cut was economically rather than politically motivated.

Saudi Arabia is rejecting as baseless accusations that last week’s output cut by oil cartel OPEC and its allies, including Russia, was politically motivated against the United States.

The decision to cut production by two million barrels a day from November infuriated the White House, with President Joe Biden promising “consequences” for OPEC’s top producer Saudi Arabia.

“Saudi Arabia has viewed the statements … which have described the decision as the kingdom taking sides in international conflicts and that it was politically motivated against the United States,” the Saudi foreign ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

Saudi Arabia would “like to express its total rejection of these statements that are not based on facts and which are based on portraying the OPEC+ decision out of its economic context”, it added.

The kingdom insisted decisions by OPEC and its allies, known as OPEC+, were taken “purely on economic considerations” and its economic advice had been to resist calls to delay the production cut.

‘Interests of all’

“The government of the kingdom clarified through its continuous consultation with the US administration that all economic analyses indicate that postponing the OPEC+ decision for a month … would have had negative economic consequences,” the ministry said.

“Resolving economic challenges requires the establishment of a non-politicised constructive dialogue and to wisely and rationally consider what serves the interests of all countries.”

Saudi Arabia denied it was taking sides over Russia’s invasion of Western-backed Ukraine, insisting it had maintained a “principled position” in support of international law.

Responding to the Saudi statement, the US criticised Saudi Arabia for insisting last week’s output cut was economically rather than politically motivated.

“The Saudi foreign ministry can try to spin or deflect, but the facts are simple. The world is rallying behind Ukraine in combating Russian aggression,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.

‘A sense of comfort’

Saudi Arabia pushed other OPEC+ nations into the output cut last week, according to Kirby.

“More than one” OPEC member disagreed with Saudi Arabia’s push to cut production and felt coerced into the vote, Kirby told reporters. He said he was not going to identify the members to let them speak for themselves.

Kirby said the United States’ analysis also showed the cut could have waited until the next OPEC meeting, after the November US midterm elections that will determine whether Biden’s Democratic party will retain control of Congress.

The production cut is the latest sign of deteriorating US-Saudi relations since Biden took office.

Kirby said the decision is “certainly” a form of economic support for Russian President Vladimir Putin because it “allows him to continue to fund his war-making machine, and it certainly gave him, Mr Putin, a sense of comfort here”.

The United States is currently reviewing consequences for relations with Saudi Arabia over the OPEC+ decision, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday.

“We are not only deeply disappointed in that, we think it’s short sighted. And as the president has made very clear, that decision has to have consequences and that’s something that we’re reviewing as we speak,” Blinken told reporters.

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