OPEC+ Agrees to Sharply Cut Oil Output in Blow to Biden
OPEC+ Agrees to Sharply Cut Oil Output in Blow to Biden

By Tom Ozimek

The OPEC+ alliance of crude-producing countries has agreed to deep cuts in oil output, providing a likely floor to falling prices and delivering a blow to President Joe Biden’s pleas for the cartel to boost production to help quell soaring inflation.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its oil-producing allies, known as OPEC+, agreed to cut production by 2 million barrels per day (bpd), with the decision coming at an Oct. 5 meeting in Vienna, Austria.

The cuts came as little surprise to markets, which had been expecting the cartel to slash output even as the White House reportedly launched a last-ditch effort to persuade OPEC not to go ahead with the cuts.

Draft White House talking points to the U.S. Treasury Department, which were reported by CNN, described the expected cuts as a “total disaster” and that they could be seen as a “hostile act.”

At a press conference following OPEC’s meeting, Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman dismissed suggestions from reporters that the cuts could be seen as “belligerent,” arguing instead that the decision is meant to provide stability to oil markets.

Crude prices jumped on news of OPEC’s cuts. Brent crude and West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures were up 2.1 percent and 1.96 percent respectively, as of 11:00 a.m. EST, on Oct. 5. Brent was trading at $93.61 per barrel, while WTI was trading at $88.05 per barrel.

‘Reliance on Foreign Oil’

Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said that the Biden administration’s dependence on foreign oil supply, rather than boosting domestic output, means OPEC’s decision will mean American drivers will face higher costs at the pump.

“OPEC is taking advantage of Pres. Biden’s reliance on foreign oil and slashing supply, which will drive up prices that Louisianians pay. It’s as simple and sad as that,” he said in a statement on Twitter.

Some analysts say OPEC’s move to cut output was an effort to stem the decline in oil prices, which hit around $120 a barrel during spring but have since slumped to around $90 a barrel on fears of an economic slowdown.

Stephen Brennock of oil broker PVM told Reuters that “$90 oil is non-negotiable for the OPEC+ leadership, hence they will act to safeguard this price floor.”

‘Very Concerned’

Faced with soaring inflation, the Federal Reserve and other major central banks have hiked interest rates aggressively, cooling economic growth and denting demand.

New York billionaire and refiner John Catsimatidis told NTD News in a recent interview that if the Biden administration reversed its hostile attitude toward oil and fossil fuels, America could “100 percent” avoid falling into a recession, inflation would ease, and the Fed wouldn’t have to keep hiking rates.

He added that he’s “very concerned” that the Biden administration doesn’t “properly know how to handle situations like this,” referring to the OPEC production cuts, which at the time of his remarks were anticipated but not yet final.

Catsimatidis said the United States and Canada can jointly produce around 20–21 million barrels per day and “then the world has more oil.”

“We don’t have to beg Venezuela or Iran or Saudi Arabia, and we can actually make enough to export to Europe,” he added. The world consumes around 100 million bpd of oil per day.

Shortly after OPEC announced its 2 million bpd output cut, White House spokesman John Kirby told Fox News that the move means the cartel was “adjusting its numbers down a little bit” after boosting production over the summer.

“OPEC+ has been saying, telling the world they’re actually producing three and a half million more barrels than they actually are,” Kirby told the outlet. “So, in some ways this announced decrease really just kind of gets them back into more aligned with actual production.”

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