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Trump Says Saudi Arabia Will Increase Oil Production at His Request

01 July 2018

The leader of Saudi Arabia promised President Donald Trump that he can raise oil production if needed and the country has 2 million barrels per day of spare capacity, the White House said on Saturday, rowing back on an earlier Trump tweet that appeared to suggest the Saudis had agreed to boost output by that amount. It produces around 10 million barrels of crude per day, according to OPEC. It is reported to have between 1.5 million and two million barrels a day of spare capacity - but experts told The Wall Street Journal it might not be keen to meet the president's request.

Later on Saturday, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said King Salman had spoken to Trump on the need to maintain oil market stability and global economic growth, but gave no further details about an output rise.

The United States has been seeking to convince countries to halt imports of Iranian oil from November, when Washington will re-impose sanctions after pulling out of the deal aimed at halting Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Trump was vague about whether the two-million-barrel increase would be per day.

Saudi King Salman speaks during a meeting of the Saudi-Iraqi Bilateral Coordination Council in Riyadh on October 22, 2017.

"There is also some analysis from energy sector experts who say that Saudi Arabia could perhaps increase its daily output but it would only be for a very short time and the quality of the oil produced would be very low amd very hard to refine".

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"The Trump support base is probably the part of the US electorate that will be the most sensitive to an increase in USA gasoline prices", Halff said.

The official Saudi Press Agency confirmed a phone call between the two leaders about oil, but mentioned no specifics.

The decision follows a meeting of oil ministers from around the globe at the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Vienna, where they decided on a production increase in order to keep prices low.

Despite ambiguous phrasing, Trump appears to believe that King Salman "agreed" to the increase in production.

The Opec oil producers' group agreed to increase output, as did Russian Federation, but this failed to reassure markets.

There was no immediate acknowledgment from the Saudi Royal Court that the conversation took place. Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih indicated the group's action would add almost 1 million bpd to the market.

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Oil prices surged again on news that the US was pressuring its allies not to import oil from Iran, lest they risk sanctions. "Triple-digit oil prices are not off the table", JBC said.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Saturday accused Washington of trying to turn Iranians against their government.

"They bring to bear economic pressure to separate the nation from the system. but six United States presidents before him tried this and had to give up", Khamenei was quoted as saying on Saturday by his website, referring to Trump.

OPEC and non-OPEC countries said they would raise supply by returning to 100 percent compliance with previously agreed output cuts, after months of underproduction.

"Saudi Arabia obviously can deliver as much as the market would need, but we're going to be respectful of the one-million-barrel cap - and at the same time be respectful of allocating some of that to countries that deliver it", al-Falih said then. "This was managed between the two to rob the pocket of rest of the world".

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