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US senators call on Saudi Arabia to leave OPEC

March 27, 2020 at 3:54 pm

A group of US Senators from the ruling Republican Party have urged Saudi Arabia to leave the Organisation of Petroleum-Exporting Countries (OPEC), claiming that the kingdom along with Russia is waging an economic war against the US.

In a letter signed by senators Lisa Murkowski, Kevin Cramer, Dan Sullivan, James Inhofe, John Hoeven and Cindy Hyde-Smith, the group stated that “The Organisation of Petroleum-Exporting Countries is a relic of a cartelised past, one that burdens the kingdom with free-riders and forces it to shoulder the lion’s share of every production decision.”

READ: Oil lies at the root of the relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia

The senators’ main claim was that the Gulf kingdom would do better to become a “free market energy powerhouse,” which partners with the US and its allies rather than benefitting the likes of Russia and China.

“Instead of investing in Russian energy projects – which may only deepen Russia’s ties to China and provide it with leverage over American allies in Europe – the kingdom should partner with the United States on strategic energy infrastructure projects across the Indo-Pacific region and in the Americas,” the letter said.

The letter comes amidst the ongoing oil crisis that has been ravaging global markets throughout the past month, starting from when Saudi Arabia sharply increased its oil production which resulted in oil prices dropping as low as $25 per barrel.

It has even been predicted that this oil price war could bring the price down even further to $10 per barrel.

READ: What does the plunge in oil prices mean for the Arab world?

The senators referred to the ongoing oil crisis, warning the kingdom that if it “foregoes this path, the United States retains enormously powerful tools at our disposal. In addition to the various types of aid and assistance, we already provide – none of which should ever be offered perpetually and unconditionally – we are reminded of the levers of statecraft the administration is empowered to exercise,” the senators warned.

Saudi-US relations have subsequently been particularly strained in recent days, with the US being one of the primary stakeholders impacted in this oil price war that is said to be the worst such oil crisis in 100 years.

Some of the measures that the US has taken, therefore, in efforts to stabilise the situation is President Donald Trump’s decision to send a special envoy to the kingdom to negotiate, as well as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s call on Saudi Arabia to take responsibility for the situation.