U.S.-Saudi strains worsen amid Russo-Saudi alliance

Riyadh (Caasimada Online) – In a move that sent ripples through the global oil market, Saudi Arabia and Russia jointly decided on Tuesday to extend their voluntary oil production cuts through year-end.

This decision will take 1.3 million barrels of crude off the global table, swiftly elevating energy prices.

“This additional voluntary cut is to support the stability and balance of oil markets,” an unnamed Energy Ministry official told the state-run Saudi Press Agency.

The immediate ramifications were evident: benchmark Brent crude rocketed past the $90 a barrel mark, a price plateau not seen since November. However, the implications of this decision stretch beyond mere price metrics.

Economic impacts 

Such a move naturally ignites concerns over inflation, potentially raising prices at gas stations for everyday consumers.

“Barring a sharp economic downturn, these supply cuts should propel crude oil prices well above $90 per barrel,” noted Bob McNally, president of the Rapidan Energy Group.

The White House has yet to make a definitive statement on the matter. However, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan emphasized the Biden administration’s commitment to energy stability and “delivering relief to consumers at the pump.”

Yet, political undertones resonate. This decision intensifies the friction between Saudi Arabia and the U.S., recalling President Joe Biden’s warning of “consequences” for Riyadh’s partnership with Moscow, especially in light of Russia’s ongoing conflict with Ukraine.

The U.S. consumer will feel this in their wallets. Andrew Gross, a spokesman for AAA, shared that the average gallon of regular unleaded gas in the U.S. is $3.81, near the all-time high of $3.83 in 2012.

However, the post-Labor Day lull in demand might dampen immediate spikes. Gross added a caveat: “A big storm along the Gulf Coast could move prices dramatically.”

Inflationary pressures are, without doubt, on the horizon. Jorge Leon of Rystad Energy commented, “Higher oil prices will likely lead to more fiscal tightening in the U.S. to curtail inflation.”

Geopolitical implications

The oil cut decision could also influence geopolitics significantly. The Saudis are eager to push oil prices up, aligning with their Vision 2030 plan to transform the nation’s economic structure.

Key initiatives under this vision, like the $500 billion city called Neom, rely on oil revenue.

Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic dance with Washington also enters the spotlight. While tensions have simmered between both nations due to potential recognition of Israel by Riyadh, the kingdom’s ambitions to enrich uranium under a nuclear cooperation deal could complicate matters.

Furthermore, the oil landscape intersects with nuclear politics. With Iran’s nuclear program advancing, Prince Mohammed’s declaration that Saudi would pursue an atomic bomb if Iran obtains one adds another layer of complexity.

Lastly, Russia’s stance is clear. Higher oil prices enable Russian President Vladimir Putin to fund his ongoing operations in Ukraine, highlighting the intertwining of energy politics and geopolitical stability.