Oil and Gas

The U.S. remains important in the oil market, even if Biden is less vocal than Trump: UAE energy minister

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Key Points
  • The U.S. will remain important in oil markets, even if President-elect Joe Biden is less vocal than President Donald Trump, says UAE Energy Minister Suhail al-Mazrouei.
  • Outgoing President Trump used to post on Twitter about crude oil and even communicated with OPEC leaders Saudi Arabia and Russia during the oil price war last year. Biden is expected to take a different approach.
  • Al-Mazrouei also weighed in on the timeline for a recovery in the oil market.
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U.S. role in oil markets will 'always' be important: UAE energy minister

The U.S. will always play an important role in global energy markets, even though President-elect Joe Biden is likely to be less vocal than President Donald Trump about oil, the UAE's energy minister told CNBC ahead of Inauguration Day.

"The United States of America is a major player now … with its production, with the fact that this industry that has been developed through shale oil and gas has created lots of jobs and created an economy by itself," said Suhail al-Mazrouei.

That won't change under a new U.S. president who is expected to focus more on renewable energy and less on oil, he said.

Whether President Biden and the new administration [will] be vocal on Twitter or not … the role of the United States will be always important.
Suhail al-Mazrouei
UAE energy minister

President Trump used to post on Twitter about crude oil and even communicated with OPEC leaders Saudi Arabia and Russia during the oil price war last year. Biden is likely to take a different approach, but al-Mazrouei said the U.S.'s leading role in energy markets is likely to remain.

"Whether President Biden and the new administration [will] be vocal on Twitter or not … the role of the United States will be always important," he told CNBC's Hadley Gamble on Tuesday as part of the virtual Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum.

Timeline for oil market recovery

Separately, the UAE energy minister said he's "optimistic" that the oil market will recover before OPEC+ cuts expire in April 2022.

The oil-producing group and its allies in April reached an agreement to cut a historic 9.7 million barrels per day in an effort to support crude prices after the coronavirus pandemic destroyed demand. The cuts will taper gradually until April 2022, when the deal will expire.

In view of the continuing global health crisis, the alliance in December agreed to raise production by 500,000 barrels per day instead of the initial 2 million bpd. This month, OPEC+ agreed to hold output largely steady, while Saudi Arabia announced an additional voluntary cut of 1 million bpd for February and March.

South Belridge Oil Field is the fourth-largest oil field in California and one of the most productive in the U.S.
David McNew | Getty Images

Al-Mazrouei said there are still many barrels of oil in storage and the market is not balanced yet.

"We continue drawing down on the inventories until we reach some reasonable levels, and hopefully that will be done by … the timeframe that we set, which is April 2022," he said.

"I'm optimistic that we would reach it before [that]," he added. "But let's say, even if it takes us … to that date, then I think that will take us to balance."

Oil prices have somewhat recovered on the back of vaccine hopes and production cuts, but are still down from pre-Covid levels and are expected to average just above $50 per barrel this year.

The International Energy Agency this week cut its forecast for global oil demand in 2021, pointing to surging Covid-19 cases globally and fresh lockdowns that will further limit mobility.

International benchmark Brent crude was up 0.81% at $56.35 on Wednesday afternoon in Asia, while U.S. crude was up 0.96% at $53.49.

— CNBC's Sam Meredith and Natasha Turak contributed to this report.