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Saudi, UAE energy ministers say NOPEC bill risks destabilizing the oil market


Ministers warn that energy investment at crisis levels

No current shortage in the oil market, Mazrouei says

OPEC+ blamed unfairly for high prices, Prince Abdulaziz says

  • Author
  • Jennifer Gnana    Claudia Carpenter    Herman Wang
  • Editor
  • Aastha Agnihotri
  • Commodity
  • Oil

Targeted by so-called NOPEC legislation in the US that would allow antitrust lawsuits against the producer alliance, top OPEC officials said May 10 the bill would worsen market volatility by driving away investment in the oil industry.

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OPEC and its allies are being blamed unfairly for the energy crisis, when other commodities are also seeing high prices, Saudi energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said.

"The world needs to wake up. The world is running out of energy capacity at all levels. It is a reality," Prince Abdulaziz said at the World Utilities Congress in Abu Dhabi. "The world needs to work collectively, comprehensively in salvaging the world economy from supply chain issues, including energy."

UAE energy minister Suhail al-Mazrouei added that the group sees the oil market as balanced and adequately supplied but that a lack of investment would jeopardize future production.

The OPEC+ alliance has come under fire from consuming countries, such as the US, Japan and India, for not more aggressively pumping more crude to tamp down rising prices and surging inflation, with Dated Brent mostly over $100/b since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in late-February.

Mazrouei said geopolitics was causing "chaos" in the market, and though he acknowledged that many OPEC members were falling well short of their production quotas, he chalked that up to a lack of investment exacerbated by the West's attempt to shift away from fossil fuels.

"We're wise and we're balancing all these factors, but trust us," he said. "We don't see any shortage, but again, we cannot guarantee that the shortage is not going to happen in the future. We could see potential shortage if we're not investing."

The 23-country OPEC+ alliance fell 2.59 million b/d short of its quotas in April, the latest Platts OPEC+ survey by S&P Global Commodity Insights found, as Western sanctions on Russia, along with outages in Kazakhstan and Libya, drove the group's production down to a six-month low.

The US Senate Judiciary Committee on May 5 advanced the NOPEC bill to the full Senate for consideration, as analysts say voter frustration over high gasoline and diesel prices have increased the odds that it could be passed. President Joe Biden, however, has not committed to signing the bill.

Mazrouei told reporters on the sidelines that US lawmakers appear to have forgotten their country's role in brokering the current OPEC+ production accord in 2020 as crude oil prices crashed to record lows, when then-President Donald Trump pushed Saudi Arabia and Russia to forge the deal at a G20 summit.

"It's not fair, it's not wise," Mazrouei said of NOPEC. "In [2020], the US government came to us and said, please reduce your production. The US took part in that and reduced production."