U.S. Energy Secretary Makes Phone Call To Saudi Arabia Ahead of OPEC+ Meet

The United States said in call with Saudi Arabia that energy should be kept affordable for consumers, as the administration of President Joe Biden resumed the practice of his predecessor Donald Trump who contacted OPEC’s leaders before key meetings.

U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said on Twitter she had a call with Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz Bin Salman.

‘We reaffirmed the importance of international cooperation to ensure affordable and reliable sources of energy for consumers’, Granholm said.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allied producers, a group known as OPEC+, have been cutting output by almost 7 million barrels per day (bpd) to support prices and reduce oversupply. In addition, Saudi Arabia has made an extra 1 million bpd likely keep most of those cuts in place.

But the mood has changed in the past 24 hours and the group is now deliberating whether to roll over current cuts or rise output, three OPEC+ sources said. The increase could amount 0.5 million bpd, two sources said.

It was not immediately clear if the change was linked to a call by Graholm.

Trump had insisted OPEC raise production to prevent prices from spiking too high and, when oil prices collapsed last year, he called Saudi Arabia and Russia to help clinch record oil output cuts to protect the US shale oil industry.

Biden’s administration has so far refrained taking such an approach.

When OPEC+ decided to keep output steady on March 4 and oil prices rose, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki made no direct comment on the decision and said Washington was focused on helping Americans via a US stimulus package.

Thursday’s virtual meeting of OPEC+ is scheduled to start at 1300 GMT. ‘The picture is still not clear’, one source said.

Reuters reported last month that no member of Biden’s team until then had reached out to OPEC about rising oil prices.

Adding to factors that could affect Thursday’s deliberations, some OPEC members have expressed frustration that non – OPEC Russia and Kazakhstan supported a broad rollover of existing cuts while also requesting small output increases for themselves for a third month running, OPEC+ sources said.

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