WSJ reports that Biden officials begged Saudis to delay OPEC+ output cutbacks until after the midterms
Citing "people familiar with the talks" between Biden administration officials and the Saudis just before OPEC+ announced its production cuts that already have sent oil and gasoline prices soaring, The Wall Street Journal reports that the request was to delay the cuts for one month — until after the midterm elections.
Days before a major oil-production cut by OPEC and its Russia-led allies, U.S. officials called their counterparts in Saudi Arabia and other big Gulf producers with an urgent appeal—delay the decision for another month, according to people familiar with the talks. The answer: a resounding no.
U.S. officials warned Saudi leaders that a cut would be viewed as a clear choice by Riyadh to side with Russia in the Ukraine war and that the move would weaken already-waning support in Washington for the kingdom, the people said.
Saudi officials dismissed the requests, which they viewed as a political gambit by the Biden administration to avoid bad news ahead of the U.S. midterm elections, on which control of Congress hangs. High gas prices and inflation have been central issues in the campaign.
Instead, the people said, the kingdom leaned on its OPEC allies to approve the cut, which is aimed at reducing production by 2 million barrels a day.
This is highly plausible. The Biden team is obsessed with the midterms, and they saw their poll numbers rise a bit as gasoline prices dropped. They are now draining the Strategic Petroleum Reserve — endangering our security — in order to temporarily lower gasoline prices before the midterms. Selling out our national security for political advantage is despicable.
Needless to say, Biden officials implausibly yet vehemently claim that the timing of the midterms is a coincidence.
Adrienne Watson, a National Security Council spokeswoman, rejected Saudi contentions that the Biden administration efforts were driven by political calculations. U.S. officials questioned a Saudi analysis that the price of oil was about to plunge and urged them to wait and see how the market reacted. If the price did collapse, U.S. officials told their Saudi counterparts, OPEC+ could react whenever they needed.
"It's categorically false to connect this to U.S. elections," Ms. Watson said. "It's about the impact of this shortsighted decision to the global economy."
There is a bridge connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn that I'd like to sell to Ms. Watson.
The real victims here are Americans who are struggling to keep their financial heads above water thanks to the pipeline, drilling permit, and other restrictions that Biden imposed immediately upon taking office, limiting the growth of U.S. oil supplies and making us dependent on OPEC+, whose interests are in ever higher oil prices. Vladimir Putin, in particular, is laughing at the Biden administration's enrichment of Russia's coffers.
Caricature by Donkey Hotey, CC BY-SA 2.0 license.
Hat tip: Ed Lasky.