Citing ongoing concerns about the impact of the war in Ukraine, the White House admonished the “shortsighted decision” by OPEC+ to cut oil output by 2 million bpd, which could lead to a rise in gas prices in the US that could be problematic for Biden and Democrats so close to midterms.
It’s also a slap in the face for Biden, who directly appealed to Saudi Arabia in July to increase oil production, which the Kingdom agreed to do although to a significantly smaller degree than the US had requested.
US top economic adviser Brian Deese and the national security adviser Jake Sullivan issued a joint statement on Wednesday stressing that the OPEC+ decision will have the strongest negative impact on lower- and middle-income countries that are already struggling with elevated energy prices at a time when maintaining a global supply of energy is of paramount importance.
Sullivan and Deese said that Biden is also calling on US energy companies to make sure American consumers are paying less at the pump by closing the historically large gap between wholesale and retail gas prices that would keep pump prices down.
The White House announced that the Department of Energy will release 10 million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve next month, highlighting at the same time the key part of the Biden administration’s agenda – the importance of transitioning away from a reliance on fossil fuels.
The statement adds that President Joe Biden was disappointed by the OPEC+ decision and announced that his administration would talk with Congress on additional tools and authorities to reduce OPEC’s control over energy prices though it’s unclear what those measures might be.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre later went as far as to suggest that OPEC+ is aligning with Russia, insinuating that they were weaponizing energy, a narrative that CNBC also used when asked the energy minister of Saudi Arabia, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman if the Kingdom is using energy as a weapon.
Pointing out that the West was often driven by wealth arrogance when criticizing the group, Saudi Arabia rebuffed criticism it was colluding with Russia to drive prices higher.