A White House official issued a searing response Thursday to Saudi Arabia after its Foreign Ministry claimed it decided to reduce oil production in a “purely economic context” outside of its relationship with Russia.
“The Saudi Foreign Ministry can try to spin or deflect, but the facts are simple,” John Kirby, the White House coordinator for strategic communications at the National Security Council, said.
Kirby repeated that the U.S. is “re-evaluating” its relationship with Saudi Arabia after the OPEC country’s decision to cut oil production by 2 million barrels a day, despite reported pleas from the U.S. to delay the reduction for at least one month.
He also claimed that “OPEC nations communicated to us privately that they also disagreed with the Saudi decision, but felt coerced to support Saudi’s direction,” and that the U.S. “presented Saudi Arabia with analysis to show that there was no market basis to cut production targets.”
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement Thursday denying the U.S. allegations that it reduced oil production for political reasons, or that it pressured any OPEC countries to follow suit, saying “this decision was taken unanimously by all member states of the OPEC+ group.”
The Foreign Ministry added that, according to analysis, the U.S. request for the oil reduction decision to be held off for at least one month “would have had negative economic consequences.”
The Biden administration has repeatedly expressed that he was “disappointed” with Saudi Arabia’s decision. President Joe Biden travelled to the middle eastern country in July in an attempt to get assurances about oil production, but failed to secure promises for any increases.
The administration had reportedly been “panicking” about the possible reduction, as it will likely raise gas prices weeks before the midterms. (RELATED: White House Pivots On Key Oil Issue In Just About 24 Hours)
In response to OPEC’s decision, Biden said he will “continue to direct releases from the [strategic petroleum reserve] as appropriate,” despite the SPR being at its lowest level since 1984.