US officials condemn Saudi oil cut

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By Griffin Brammer, show director

President Joe Biden said he would take action against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday (October 11) after the Kingdom said it would cut crude oil production.

“I’m not going to get into what I would consider and what I have in mind. But there will be consequences,” President Biden said.

The decision by Saudi officials was noted at an OPEC+ (Organization of Petroleum Producing Countries) meeting in Vienna, Austria. During the said meeting, the Kingdom announced that it would reduce its production costs by two million barrels per day.

Saudi Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman said the decline in oil production was due to the need to protect an energy industry plagued by economic uncertainty.

“We are here to stay as a moderating force, to bring stability,” bin Salman said.

The Kingdom also rejected a US request to delay the cuts for a month, citing economic concerns.

“The Kingdom has clarified through its ongoing consultations with the US administration that all economic analyzes indicate that postponing the OPEC+ decision by one month, as suggested, would have had negative economic consequences” , the Saudi ministry said in a statement.

Saudi Arabia is one of the interim leaders of OPEC+, along with Russia.

The European Union (EU) imposed embargoes on Russian crude oil earlier this year to bolster Ukrainian forces by partially crippling the Russian economy. In an attempt to remedy this, President Biden met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia to increase oil production and reduce gas prices in the US and EU.

Although no statement was released as to the success of the meeting, the president seemed hopeful. “You won’t see that for a few weeks,” he said of rising gasoline prices.

The decision by Saudi officials has already had an impact on the global economy. Brent Crude, the international benchmark for oil, rose 1.5% and fuel prices in the United States and Europe soared. In an attempt to ease the situation, the Biden administration planned to release 10 million barrels from the national reserve.

While the Kingdom denies their decision as a political favor to Russia, some US politicians believe otherwise.

“I’m not buying it,” Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL.) said in an interview with the BBC. “To say, ‘It’s a business decision, don’t take it personally,’ we’re in the middle of a war, innocent people are dying.”

Senator and Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee Robert Menendez (DN.J.) urged members of the Senate to end all arms sales to the kingdom.

“Either you support the rest of the free world trying to stop a war criminal from violently wiping an entire country off the map, or you support him,” Menendez said. “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia chose the latter in a terrible decision motivated by its own economic interest.”

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Rep. Ro Khana (D-California) introduced legislation that would block all U.S. arms sales and support services to Saudi Arabia for a year, a day after Menendez’s statement.

“We cannot continue to sell highly sensitive weapons technology to a nation aligned with a heinous terrorist adversary,” Blumenthal said.

As of now, President Biden has not assembled a resource person to advise the situation, nor does the White House have a timeline for its review of Saudi relations.

“I’ll leave it up to the president to lead that question,” Durbin said. “Give the (Saudi) a break on (this issue)…don’t count my vote.

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