White House Backs Off Trump Tweet Claiming Saudi Agreement To Produce More Oil

A statement clarifies that Saudi Arabia issued a vague statement about its plans.

The White House late Saturday issued a statement backing down from President Donald Trump’s earlier tweet that said he had persuaded Saudi Arabia’s king to produce as much as 2 million additional barrels of oil a day to bring prices down.

A White House statement said instead that while King Salman bin Abdulaziz confirmed his country has the extra production capacity, the Saudis will “prudently” use it “if and when necessary to ensure market balance and stability, and in coordination with its producer partners, to respond to any eventuality.”

Saudi Arabia regulates its oil production in agreement with other members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. 

Trump tweeted that after the two men had a phone conversation on Friday, King Salman had “agreed” to increase oil production, “maybe up to 2,000,000 barrels.”

The state-run Saudi Press Agency confirmed Saturday that Trump had spoken with the king about the need to “maintain the stability of oil markets,” The Wall Street Journal reported. But there was no mention of any agreement on increased oil production.

If Trump made such a request, Iran’s OPEC governor Hossein Kazempour Ardebili told Bloomberg, that meant the president was calling on the Saudis to ignore their commitment to OPEC. “There is no way one country could go 2 million barrels a day above their production allocation unless they are walking out of OPEC,” he said.

Saudi Arabia may increase its output by up to 1 million gallons of oil a day due to recent OPEC talks — not because of a request by Trump, according to the Bloomberg report. The OPEC nations agreed at a meeting in Vienna to modify earlier reductions in output.

Rising oil prices are impacting U.S. prices at the pump. The average cost for unleaded gas, including taxes, hit $2.83 a gallon for the week ending June 25 — up about 55 cents over the same period last year.

Higher gas prices are a political concern for the GOP as the midterm elections approach.