US officials requests Riyadh to increase oil output to counter surging prices


Two senior US officials visiting Saudi Arabia have urged Riyadh to pump more oil to help stabilise prices that have soared during the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

White House Middle East co-ordinator Brett McGurk and State Department senior adviser on energy security Amos Hochstein visited Riyadh on Wednesday and met their Saudi counterparts, two US officials confirmed to The National.

Mr Hochstein visited the country to participate in the 12th International Energy Forum being held this week in Riyadh, a State Department official said. The US envoy was a speaker on Wednesday’s agenda.READ MOREDubai’s Dragon Oil makes first oil discovery in Gulf of Suez

But both Mr McGurk and Mr Hochstein held talks with senior Saudi officials at the request of the White House in a bid to convince Riyadh to produce more oil.

“With oil-producing countries, we’re talking about proposed production increases. With oil-consuming countries, we’re talking about releases from strategic reserves,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said last week.

Mr Biden called Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on February 9 and discussed oil prices. The two leaders reiterated a joint “commitment to ensuring the stability of global energy supplies”, the White House said.

The White House did not disclose who the US delegation met in Riyadh.

In his last trip to the kingdom in October, Mr McGurk met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The standoff between Russia and Ukraine has sent oil prices rallying to their highest in more than seven years this week, Reuters reported, registering close to $100 per barrel.

But Saudi Arabia has so far resisted US calls to increase production and is standing by its commitments to Opec+, a powerful consortium of oil producers that includes Russia.

Mr Biden on Tuesday said a Russian attack on Ukraine would bring more instability to the market.

“I will not pretend this will be painless … We’re preparing to deploy all the tools and authority at our disposal to provide relief at the gas pump,” he said.

The average price of a gallon of petrol in the US reached $3.51 on Wednesday, the American Automobile Association reported, the highest since 2014.

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