(Photo credit: Bandar Aljaloud/ AP)
US President Joe Biden has reportedly made a U-turn from previous threats to “punish” Saudi Arabia for its decision to cut global oil production by 2 million barrels per day (bpd) in October 2022, according to a CNN report published on 3 February.
This comes months after the White House announced significant “consequences” in response to the decision by OPEC+ to cut global oil production.
CNN cites multiple anonymous sources on Capitol Hill and the White House that claim that President Biden no longer has the interest to follow through on these threats.
The same sources added that officials are “sidestepping the reassessment” of the US-Saudi relationship, despite earlier calls by the White House for a “coordinated review.”
“There is only so much patience one can have when you’ve been asking for a conversation for four months,” a senior Democratic aide told CNN.
However, CNN reports that some officials have been frustrated over Biden’s tone changeBiden towards Saudi Arabia and MbS, citing concerns with the lack of consequences despite low energy prices.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby stated last week that the administration is still reviewing the status of US-Saudi relations to determine if the relationship is “in our best national security interests.”
On 5 October, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre accused OPEC+ of “aligning with Russia,” claiming their decision “is shortsighted while the global economy is dealing with the continued negative impact of [Russia’s] invasion of Ukraine.”
On 12 October, President Joe Biden doubled down on the statement, saying, “There’s going to be some consequences for what they’ve done with Russia.”
Earlier in the year, the US Senate approved the No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act (NOPEC), which could open OPEC member states and their partners to antitrust lawsuits for “orchestrating supply cuts that raise global crude prices.”
However, at the time, Saudi Oil Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman defended the production cut. He dismissed suggestions that the cartel was using energy as a ‘weapon’ by lowering oil output.
“Show me where is the act of belligerence,” he said, adding that energy markets required “guidance without which investment would not happen.”