U.S. officials condemn Saudi Arabian oil reduction

By Griffin Brammer, Show Manager

President Joe Biden said he would take action against Saudi Arabia Tuesday, Oct. 11 after the Kingdom declared it would be cutting down on its crude oil production.

“I’m not going to get into what I’d consider and what I have in mind. But there will be consequences,” President Biden stated.

The Saudi Arabian officials’ decision was noted during an OPEC+ (Organization of Petroleum Producing Countries) meeting in Vienna, Austria. During said meeting, the Kingdom announced it would be cutting production costs by two million barrels per day.

Saudi energy minister Abdulaziz bin Salman stated the drop in oil production was due to a need to protect an energy industry experiencing economic uncertainty. 

“We are here to stay as a moderating force, to bring about stability,” bin Salman explained.

The Kingdom also denied a request from the United States to delay the cuts by a month, citing economic issues.

“The Kingdom clarified through its continuous consultations with the U.S. administration that all economic analyses indicate that postponing the OPEC+ decision for a month, according to what has been suggested, would have had negative economic consequences,” the Saudi ministry explained in a statement.

Saudi Arabia is one of the acting leaders of OPEC+, along with Russia.

The European Union (EU) placed embargoes on Russian crude oil earlier this year in order to support Ukrainian forces by partially crippling the Russian economy. In an attempt to rectify this, President Biden met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia to increase oil production and reduce gas prices both in the US and EU.

While a statement was never released as to the success of the meeting, the President seemed hopeful. “You won’t see that for another couple of weeks,” he said in regards to raising gas prices.

The Saudi Arabian officials’ decision has already had an impact on the global economy. Brent Crude, the international benchmark for oil, has increased by 1.5%, and US and European fuel prices have soared. In an attempt to alleviate the situation, the Biden administration planned to release 10 million barrels from the national reserve.

While the Kingdom denies their decision as a political favor to Russia, some US politicians speculate otherwise.

“I don’t buy it,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL.) said in an interview with BBC. “To say, ‘it’s a business decision, don’t take it personally,’ we’re in the middle of a war, innocent people are dying.”

Senator and Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) urged members of the Senate to halt all arms sales to the kingdom.

“Either you support the rest of the free world in trying to stop a war criminal from violently wiping off an entire country off of the map, or you support him,” Menendez stated. “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia chose the latter in a terrible decision driven by economic self-interest.”

Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Representative Ro Khana (D-Calif.) introduced legislation that would block all U.S. arms sales and support services to Saudi Arabia for a year one day after Menendez’s statement.

“We cannot continue selling highly sensitive arms technology to a nation aligned with an abhorrent terrorist adversary,” Blumenthal said.

As of yet, President Biden has not assembled a point person to advise the situation, nor does the White House currently have a timeline for its review of Saudi relationships.

“I will leave it to the President to lead on this issue,” Durbin stated. “Giving the (Saudis) a break on (this issue)… don’t count on my vote.”