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After output cutbacks, is OPEC “aligning” with Russia?

Following the agreement to reduce oil production, the United States has charged that OPEC’s oil-producing members are supporting Russia. Oil-consuming nations have suffered as a result of the OPEC+ alliance’s decision to drastically reduce output and raise crude prices. This has led to charges that Gulf producers are supporting Russia at the expense of the United States and its friends in the West. The 13-nation OPEC bloc, together with 10 allies led by Moscow, decided to reduce output by two million barrels per day (bpd) beginning in November, according to a statement released by the group on Wednesday.

The Biden administration expressed frustration over the potential for pump prices to rise more further before a crucial midterm election. The government has spent months trying to convince its Middle Eastern friends not to reduce oil supply. The move by OPEC+ was “short-sighted,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Wednesday, as the world economy was still suffering from “the continuous devastating impact of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.”

With today’s announcement, “OPEC+ is obviously siding with Russia,” said Jean-Pierre. However, OPEC has refuted such charge. On Friday, Haitham al-Ghais, the group’s secretary-general, stated, “This was not a choice from one country against another.” Al-Ghais said to Al Arabiya TV, “I want to be clear in expressing this, and it’s not a choice from two or three nations versus a bunch of other countries.”

Saudi Arabia, one of the major OPEC members, added that the action was required in response to escalating Western interest rates and a deteriorating global economy. Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said, “Show me where is the act of belligerence,” adding that markets needed “direction without which investment would not materialize.”


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