(Photo credit: Reuters)
The energy ministers of Saudi Arabia and the UAE said on 29 March that the OPEC+ oil alliance will continue keeping politics out of its decision-making process and will instead focus on stabilizing fuel prices.
“If we don’t [leave politics at the door] we would not have dealt with so many countries at different times. It could have been with Iraq at one point, it could have been with Iran at one point,” Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said after being asked whether OPEC+ has a “moral responsibility” to expel Russia from the alliance.
UAE Energy Minister Suhail al-Mazrouei, meanwhile, said that OPEC+ has “one mission and only one mission, which is stabilizing the market. So we cannot be politicizing, or bringing politics to the organization having that debate … our aim is to calm the market.”
Al-Mazrouei added that countries could unilaterally refuse to buy Russian oil, but pushing Russia out of the alliance would “contradict its ethos.”
After the US and the EU imposed severe economic sanctions on Russia, western leaders have been pushing for their Gulf allies to increase oil production in order to lower crude prices.
However, their calls have fallen on deaf ears as both Saudi Arabia and the UAE made it clear they have no intention of breaking with their OPEC+ commitments.
On top of this, on 16 March, OPEC officials warned the EU against banning oil imports from Russia, saying that the markets will see massive price spikes beyond the surge already seen.
Russia is an ally of OPEC and co-chairs the OPEC+ group, which has cooperated on oil supplies to support oil markets since 2017.
OPEC+ has boosted output targets by 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) each month since August 2021. From 1 May, the monthly increase will rise to 432,000 bpd.
However, this increase is not a concession to western demands, but comes after internal recalculations of reference production levels, effectively higher baselines for Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iraq, the UAE, and Kuwait.