Saudi Arabia says OPEC+ oil cut ‘purely economic’

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Saudi Arabia rejected as “not based on facts” statements criticizing the Kingdom after an OPEC+ decision last week to cut its oil production target despite US objections, saying it serves the interests of both consumers and producers.

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The OPEC+ decision was adopted through consensus, took into account the balance of supply and demand and was aimed at curbing market volatility, the Saudi foreign ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

President Joe Biden pledged earlier this week that “there will be consequences” for US relations with Saudi Arabia after OPEC+ said last week it would cut its oil production target by 2 million barrels per day.

OPEC+, the producer group comprising the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) plus allies including Russia, announced its new production target after weeks of lobbying by US officials against such a move.

The US accused Saudi Arabia of kowtowing to Moscow, which objects to a Western cap on the price of Russian oil in response to its invasion of Ukraine.

The Saudi foreign ministry statement, quoting an unnamed official, stressed the “purely economic context” of the oil cut.

The statement also referred to consultations with the United States in which it was asked to delay the cuts by a month.

The OPEC+ move has raised worries in Washington about the possibility of higher gasoline prices right before the November US midterm elections, with Biden’s Democrats trying to retain their control of the House of Representatives and Senate.

“The Kingdom clarified through its continuous consultations with the US administration that all economic analyzes indicate that postponing the OPEC+ decision for a month, according to what has been suggested would have had negative economic consequences,” it said.

Saudi Arabia also said it views its relationship with the US as a “strategic one” and stressed the importance of mutual respect.

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