Trump asks OPEC not to cut production

Marco Green
December 6, 2018

Brian Hook, the senior US official overseeing sanctions against Iran, met with Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih on Wednesday morning in the Austrian capital, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Russian Federation has so far resisted steep production cuts.

"If Mr. Hook has come to Vienna to apply for USA membership in OPEC, and this is the reason why he meets OPEC members, this request shall be reviewed", Zanganeh said, according to the ministry's official news service, Shana.

The U.S. and Saudi Arabia have been discussing the availability of oil on the global market - sometimes privately, sometimes via Twitter - ever since President Donald Trump announced in May that he wanted to choke Iran's oil exports to a trickle to pressure it to reopen nuclear negotiations.

If the 20 or so OPEC members and other nations at the Vienna talks - which account for more than half of the world's oil - continue to pump at current record levels, they risk seeing prices continue to tumble.

Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih met with the U.S. Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook, on Wednesday, a day before OPEC is meeting to discuss new production cuts to rebalance the market, Reuters reported, quoting sources familiar with the meeting. A source close to the Russian Energy Ministry said, "No one is eager to cut unless there is an emergency".

"We have taken over 1 million bpd off Iran's export list and many more barrels will be coming off very soon", the diplomat said at a briefing.

Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United States have been vying for the position of top crude producer in recent years.

"Hopefully, OPEC will be keeping oil flows as is, not restricted".

The U.S. pledge to bring Iran's oil exports down to zero did not materialize, and the market was left oversupplied, with oil prices plunging some 30 percent from the four-year-highs reached in early October.

The production surge took place in the run-up to Trump's pledge to sanction Iran's oil sector on November 4 and later decide to give waivers to some customers.

Iran is suffering both as a result of lower prices and a decline in its oil exports because of the United States sanctions. Trump wrote in a tweet on Wednesday.

Possibly complicating any OPEC decision is the crisis around the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October.

"If Mr. Hook has come to Vienna to apply for United States membership in OPEC, and this is the reason why he meets OPEC members, the request can be reviewed", Zanganeh told SHANA.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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