© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logo of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Vienna March 16, 2010. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader
By Ahmad Elhamy and Moaz Abd-Alaziz
CAIRO (Reuters) -Saudi Arabia rejected as “not based on facts” criticism of an OPEC+ decision last week to cut its oil production target despite U.S. objections, and said Washington’s request to delay the cut by a month would have had negative economic consequences.
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.
U.S. President Joe Biden pledged earlier this week that “there will be consequences” for U.S. 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 U.S. officials against such a move.
The OPEC+ cut has raised concerns in Washington about the possibility of higher gasoline prices ahead of the November U.S. midterm elections, with the Democrats trying to retain their control of the House of Representatives and Senate.
The Saudi foreign ministry statement on Thursday referred to consultations with the United States prior to the Oct. 5 OPEC+ meeting in which it was asked to delay the cuts by a month.
“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 foreign ministry statement said.
The United States 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.
It also said the kingdom views its relationship with the United States as a “strategic one” and stressed the importance of mutual respect.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) issued a statement in support of Saudi Arabia’s comments praising the kingdom’s efforts to protect the market from volatility.