UAE energy chief doubles down on OPEC alliance with Russia

The United Arab Emirates’ Energy the minister doubled on Monday in a Petroleum alliance with Russia that helped push oil prices to their highest level in years as Moscow’s war on Ukraine shakes the markets and sends energy and commodity prices skyrocket.

The minister said that Russia, with its 10 million barrels of oil per day, is an important member of the OPEC+ global energy alliance.

United Arab Emirates Energy Minister Suhail al-Mazrouei speaks during the Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum at Dubai Expo 2020, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Monday, March 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

“And politics aside, that volume is needed today,” Suhail al-Mazrouei said. “Unless someone is willing to come in and bring in 10 million barrels, we don’t see anyone being able to replace Russia.”

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Spearheaded by Saudi Arabia and Russia, the alliance has the ability to increase oil production and reduce crude prices that have soared above $100 a barrel.

The United States, European nations, Japan and others have called on Persian Gulf oil producers to do more to help lower prices. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson paid an in-person visit this month to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, where he raised the issue.

OPEC

The OPEC logo is displayed before an informal meeting between members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Algiers, Algeria. (REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina)

Al-Mazrouei described the OPEC+ alliance as one that is here to stay and rejected any suggestion that the UAE would act on its own and increase production unilaterally.

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“Stay together, stay focused and not allow politics to affect this organization … we always believe that whatever we do as countries when it comes to production and this work, it should always stay out of politics,” he told the . Mazrouei added.

The OPEC+ alliance has stuck to its plan for gradual increases in oil production based on a deal struck during the height of the crisis. coronavirus pandemic lockdowns as producers made deep output cuts to offset falling fuel demand. Higher oil prices have been good for oil-producing economies. Despite diversification efforts, the Persian Gulf states continue to rely heavily on energy exports to power their economies.

Al-Mazrouei also used his speech at the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Forum in Dubai to push for more investment in oil and gas, even as his country moves toward reducing emissions within the UAE’s borders and commits to its commitment to zero net emissions by 2050.

A view of the damaged regional police station building after a Russian missile attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on March 2, 2022. (Ukrainian State Emergency Service/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

In an apparent criticism of some NATO members’ policies, the minister said Russia’s war in Ukraine, which he described as a crisis, needs to be resolved through diplomacy and “not pouring more weapons into the situation because basically, the people are going to be the victims.”

The UAE has been covering his policies and statements since the beginning of the invasion, with the country’s foreign minister even traveling to Moscow earlier this month and discussing ways to boost ties.

Prices have also risen as Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s biggest oil producer, faces continued cross-border attacks by Houthi rebels from neighboring Yemen, who have used drones and missiles to attack the kingdom’s oil facilities. Saudi Arabia has said it will not bear any responsibility for oil supply shortages due to the attacks.

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Despite US condemnation of the Houthis and US-supplied anti-missile systems for Saudi Arabia, relations between the Biden administration and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman remain strained and there has been no direct call between the two. since the president of the United States took office.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrives at the Kansai airport in Izumisano city, Osaka prefecture, on June 27, 2019, ahead of the G20 Summit in Osaka. (CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)

The US State Department’s senior adviser for global energy security, Amos Hochstein, has been on multiple recent trips to Saudi Arabia to discuss energy issues. He said higher oil prices are helping Russia recoup some of its losses from US sanctions and stressed the need to lessen Europe’s dependence on Russian energy supplies, particularly natural gas.

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When asked about the Biden administration’s commitment to Gulf allies, he said it remains “rock solid” and cautioned that this “doesn’t mean we always agree.”

“We are committed. In no attack will we say ‘this is your problem and not ours,'” he added.

Russian oil

A common type of Russian oil, known in the industry as Urals, is priced at an increasingly discounted price, indicating that buyers of Russian oil remain spooked. (Rosneft brochure via EYEPRESS)

He refused to publicly call on the OPEC+ alliance to pump more oil and said he had no specific message for the group before the next meeting on Thursday.

“I think everyone in OPEC is well acquainted with the market and knows the shortage that we are experiencing right now,” he said. He was initially scheduled to attend in person, but instead delivered his remarks virtually.

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Meanwhile, Al-Mazrouei gave no indication that OPEC producers plan to change course, but noted that “we are in an environment where everyone is saying to increase their production.”

“We definitely need all available resources right now,” he added, criticizing efforts to divest from oil and gas.

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