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CERAWeek: Barkindo concerned about anti-OPEC bill, says Trump tweets adding uncertainty

Houston — OPEC members are increasingly concerned about the passage of anti-OPEC legislation in the US while President Donald Trump's oil price-focused tweets have added new uncertainties to the market, Mohammad Barkindo, OPEC's secretary general, said Tuesday at CERAWeek by IHS Markit in Houston.

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"The president doesn't give notice before he tweets," Barkindo told reporters, stressing that Trump's interest in oil prices is understandable considering the importance of the energy sector on the US economy.

"We welcome this rising interest in Washington on what's happening," Barkindo said. "We welcome the president joining this dialogue."

Barkindo said OPEC members have repeatedly raised concerns about the No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels, or NOPEC, Act, which was passed by the House Judiciary Committee earlier this year. He said he was watching progress on the bill with "keen interest."

Versions of the bill, which would allow the US Department of Justice to sue OPEC for antitrust violations, have been introduced in every Congress over the past 20 years, but Trump's previous support for the legislation has increased the odds for it to become law.

Trump has not publicly backed the bill since he was elected and members of his Cabinet, including Energy Secretary Rick Perry, have spoken out against it.

Barkindo said OPEC has been lobbying against the bill in meeting sin Washington, highlighting the "consequences" of the legislation on the US oil industry.

"We remain confident that reason will prevail," he said

Barkindo, who met with some US shale producers Monday, said it was in the best interest of US producers and OPEC to work toward market stability.

"We have been operating in silos for too long, in my opinion," he said. "This is not a good practice in today's globalized world."

Barkindo said the status of the six-month, 24-country OPEC/non-OPEC coalition's 1.2 million b/d production cut accord would be discussed at a joint ministerial meeting this weekend in Baku. The agreement is set to expire at the end of June, but Barkindo gave no indication if it would be extended.

-- Brian Scheid, brian.scheid@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Jason Lindquist, newsdesk@spglobal.com