Earlier, the US president thanked Riyadh for lowering oil prices and urged them to “go lower” amid reported accusations by the CIA that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman may have ordered the killing of Saudi journalist and Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi.
The Department of Justice is carrying out a formal review of legislation which would end sovereign immunity and allow Washington to sue the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the 15-member group which controls 81.5 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves, Bloomberg has reported, citing a DoJ official.
According to the official, the DoJ ‘would frown upon’ the ‘type of conduct’ enabling OPEC to slap production quotas on crude oil, with quotas blamed for raising the price of gas for US consumers.
Lawmakers from both houses of Congress introduced anti-OPEC legislation in a bid to rein in OPEC’s policies earlier this year. In June, the House Judiciary Committee put forth the so-called ‘No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act’, or ‘NOPEC’, which would allow the US attorney general to sue OPEC for ‘collusion’ under the same US antitrust legislation which allowed the government to break up the Rockefeller oil empire at the turn of the 20th century by removing the principle of sovereign immunity.
OPEC and Russia agreed to rein in output in June in a bid to stabilize prices following cuts started in January 2017 to drain the oil glut which led to oil prices dropping to under $30 a barrel. Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates ramped up production earlier this month amid dropping Venezuelan output and falling prices. The June output restrictions deal will expire at the end of the year. OPEC is expected to meet in Vienna on December 6 amid expectations that it will curb output in 2019.
President Trump, who has repeatedly attacked OPEC and its top producer Saudi Arabia over high oil prices, changed course on Wednesday, thanking the Kingdom for the falling prices and comparing the measure to “a big Tax Cut for America and the World.” The president made the remarks a day after suggesting that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman “could very well” have had knowledge about plans to liquidate Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Trump vowed to remain a “steadfast partner” to Riyadh amid media allegations that the US intelligence had knowledge that the Saudi Crown Prince was responsible for Khashoggi’s killing.