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Trump says it's 'very important that OPEC increase the flow of oil' because prices are too high

Key Points
  • President Trump issues his second warning to OPEC this year as oil prices rise.
  • The Twitter message comes as OPEC and its allies are cutting production to drain oversupply from the market and boost prices.
  • OPEC has so far shrugged off requests from Trump to scale back or reverse its output curbs.
U.S. President Donald Trump, speaks with Mohammed bin Salman, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's deputy crown prince and minister of defense, left, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, March 14, 2017.
Mark Wilson | Bloomberg | Getty Images

President Donald Trump told OPEC on Thursday that its members should start pumping more oil, marking his second warning to the producer group this year as crude prices continue to rise.

Trump's latest tweet comes as OPEC and a group of allies led by Russia are cutting production following a collapse in oil prices in the final months of 2018. The output curbs by the so-called OPEC+ group have played a major part in the rebound in the oil market this year.

Oil prices briefly fell nearly 2 percent after Trump's tweet, but soon rebounded, settling just pennies below Wednesday's closing price. The last time Trump tweeted at OPEC, oil prices tanked about $2 a barrel, or more than 3 percent.

"I would say that it is apparent that the oil market has concluded that the OPEC+ group has put President Trump's Twitter account on mute," said John Kilduff, founding partner at energy hedge fund Again Capital.

Analysts say pressure from the Trump administration last year — punctuated by a series of Twitter attacks on OPEC — contributed to the producer group's decision to lift production limits in June. But in recent months, OPEC members have mostly shrugged off Trump's social media demands.

The OPEC+ alliance agreed to a fresh round of production cuts in December, despite Trump calling on the group to keep pumping at high levels. Since January, the group has aimed to keep 1.2 million barrels a day off the market in order to drain oversupply.

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Oil prices likely to head higher as OPEC stands firm on production cuts, says RBC's Helima Croft

After Trump asked OPEC last month to "please relax and take it easy," Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih told CNBC "We are taking it easy." He added that he is leaning toward extending the six-month production cuts into the second half of 2019.

Last week, OPEC+ canceled an April meeting meant to review the output pact, leaving the production curbs in place until at least June.

OPEC ministers have expressed frustration with the Trump administration for allowing several of Iran's biggest oil buyers to continue purchasing limited amounts of the Islamic Republic's crude, despite U.S. sanctions on the country.

For months leading up to the renewal of U.S. sanctions on Iran in November, the Trump administration said it would enforce the penalties severely. Oil producers hiked production heading into November in order to make up for an anticipated plunge in Iranian exports, but ended up flooding the market.

The sanctions waivers expire in just over a month, and the Trump administration must once again decide how much Iranian crude it will allow importers to purchase. Earlier this month, OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo told CNBC the uncertainty around the waivers is making OPEC's effort to balance the oil market more difficult.

Trump's 2019 OPEC tweets have been more diplomatic than last year's Twitter barbs. However, he is issuing them earlier in the year and before oil prices reach levels that prompted his attacks in 2018.

Brent was trading near $74 a barrel and WTI was hovering around $68 when Trump sent his first tweet at OPEC last April. Brent's high this year is $68.69 and WTI peaked at $60.39 last week.