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Trump, Saudi king agree to production boost to battle rising oil prices, and offset Venezuela, Iran supply woes

Key Points
  • President Donald Trump said Saudi Arabia had consented to a production boost to offset lost supply from embattled Iran and Venezuela.
  • While Trump said Saudi Arabia would pump up to 2 million barrels of additional oil supply, a statement from the kingdom made no mention of an exact figure.
Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud shakes hands with U.S. President Donald Trump during a reception ceremony in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 20, 2017.
Bandar Algaloud | Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court | Reuters

President Donald Trump said in a tweet on Saturday that Saudi Arabia’s King Salman had agreed to his request to increase oil production “maybe up to 2,000,000 barrels” to offset production from Iran and Venezuela.

The world’s top oil exporter plans to pump as much as 11 million barrels of oil per day (bpd) in July, an oil industry source told Reuters this week, after OPEC agreed with Russia and other oil producers to raise output by about 1 million bpd.

Trump tweeted: “Just spoke to King Salman of Saudi Arabia and explained to him that, because of the turmoil & disfunction in Iran and Venezuela, I am asking that Saudi Arabia increase oil production, maybe up to 2,000,000 barrels, to make up the difference ... Prices to high! He has agreed!”

Saudi King Salman and Trump emphasized the need to preserve oil market stability and the efforts of oil-producing countries to compensate for any potential shortage, in a phone call reported by Saudi state media on Saturday. However, the statement did not mention any intention by Saudi Arabia to raise production to 2 million barrels per day.

The Trump administration is pushing countries to cut all imports of Iranian oil from November when the United States re-imposes sanctions against Tehran, after Trump withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal agreed between Iran and six major powers, calling it a “defective” agreement.

That agreement sought to curb Tehran’s nuclear capabilities in exchange for the lifting of some sanctions. Trump ordered the re-imposition of U.S. sanctions against Iran that were suspended under the accord.

U.S. officials are pressing allies in Europe, Asia and the Middle East to adhere to the sanctions, which are aimed at pressuring Iran to negotiate a follow-up agreement to halt its nuclear programs.

State Department officials said this week the United States is prepared to work with countries on a case-by-case basis to help them reduce imports of Iranian oil.

China, the world’s top crude oil buyer, imported around 655,000 barrels a day on average from Iran in the first quarter of this year, according to official Chinese customs data, equivalent to more than a quarter of Iran’s total exports.

Oil analysts said OPEC producers may not be able to fully supply the market if Iranian oil is cut from the market.

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Key Points
  • Saudi Arabia will reportedly invest $40 billion in U.S. infrastructure development.
  • An announcement could coincide with President Donald Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia next week.