Trump Accuses OPEC of Keeping Crude Oil Prices “Artificially” High


By Ejiofor Alike with agency reports

Crude oil prices stabilised yesterday after an earlier slide driven by comments by the United States President Donald Trump, who accused the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) of “keeping oil prices artificially very high.”

But responding from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, OPEC secretary general, Mohammad Barkindo, stated that the United States’ oil and gas industry was a beneficiary of the cartel’s efforts to restore stability in the oil market.

In a tweet, Trump said the cartel’s pricing cycle “will not be accepted” as there is no scarcity of oil supply to warrant such “high prices.”

“Looks like OPEC is at it again. With record amounts of Oil all over the place, including the fully loaded ships at sea, Oil prices are artificially Very High! No good and will not be accepted,” Trump reportedly tweeted.

However, Barkindo said OPEC members were friends of the United States and had a vested interest in its growth and prosperity.

He added that the cartel’s efforts had restored stability in the oil market for the benefit of the United States and other producers.

“We in OPEC pride ourselves as friends of the United States who have vested interest in their growth, development and prosperity,” Barkindo said, adding that OPEC, non-OPEC deal “has not only arrested the decline but rescued the oil industry from imminent collapse and is now on course to restore stability on a sustainable basis in the interest of producers, consumers and the global economy”.

Global benchmark, Brent crude oil futures were down six cents at $73.72 per barrel while West Texas Intermediate crude futures  for delivery in June, the most active U.S. contract, were down two cents at $68.31.

The May WTI contract, which expires on Friday, CLc1 gained three cents at $68.29.

Since early 2017, the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies have curbed output in the hopes of eliminating a global oil glut.

“We are doing our role to correct the market and the market, as we said, is not yet balanced,” UAE energy minister Suhail al-Mazrouei said in response to the tweet, adding that prices were not artificially high.

OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo said members were friends of the United States and had a vested interest in its growth and prosperity.

 Earlier this week, both Brent and WTI hit their highest levels since November 2014, at $74.75 and $69.56 per barrel respectively, buoyed by geopolitical risk and a tightening market. For the week, both benchmarks were on track for a gain of over one per cent.

Saudi Oil Minister Khalid al-Falih said OPEC and its allies had not yet reached their target and that drawdowns in oil inventories needed to continue.

The United States has until May 12 to decide whether it will leave the Iran nuclear deal, which would further tighten global supplies.