President Donald Trump took another swipe at global oil producers Thursday as the price of benchmark crude inched toward the $80-a-barrel threshold, tweeting at the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries:
We protect the countries of the Middle East, they would not be safe for very long without us, and yet they continue to push for higher and higher oil prices! We will remember. The OPEC monopoly must get prices down now!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 20, 2018
The remarks come ahead of a closely watched meeting in Algiers of a committee made up of representatives of OPEC countries and its outside allies. The producers had agreed in June to boost production in an effort to get output nearer a previously agreed ceiling. The June agreement was seen, in part, as a response to U.S. pressure.
Oil prices have been on the rise, boosted in part by Trump’s decision to pull out of the Tehran nuclear accord and renew sanctions on Iran aimed at sharply curtailing the major producer’s exports.
Trump’s latest tweet also come after a news report earlier this week said officials from Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s de facto leader and the crucial swing producer, were growing comfortable with the possibility of crude prices above $80 a barrel.
November futures on Brent crude LCOX8, -0.89% , the global benchmark, turned lower and were 41 cents, or 0.5%, at $79.03 a barrel in recent action. Futures on West Texas Intermediate for November delivery CLX8, -0.51% on the New York Mercantile Exchange were also dragged lower and traded off 9 cents, or 0.1%, at $70.69 a barrel. Brent is up 2% so far in September and more than 18% since the end of 2017, while WTI is up nearly 17% for the year to date.
The decision by OPEC and its allies, particularly Russia, to boost output in June was seen as an effort to help blunt the impact of the expected drop in Iranian output.
It’s no surprise to see politicians sensitive to rising oil prices, which translate to higher gasoline prices at the pump, particularly ahead of midterm congressional elections in November. Trump, who has embraced and reaffirmed Saudi Arabia as a key U.S. ally, has taken aim at the cartel previously, in a pattern observers said appears to show a sensitivity to pushes toward the $80 threshold for Brent.