Donald Trump can tweet anything he wants: Saudi energy minister, JMMC

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ABU DHABI — Saudi Arabia’s recently appointed Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman is unfazed by President Donald Trump’s tweets about OPEC and the oil market, he indicated Thursday during a meeting of the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC) in Abu Dhabi.

When asked how OPEC planned to navigate President Donald Trump’s social media missives on the oil market, Abdulaziz replied: “The president is the president. He is entitled to tweet anything he wants.”

The American president has taken to Twitter scores of times to express his disdain for the 14-member organization’s output cutting plans that have aimed to boost prices amid a high supply and low demand environment. In mid-June, after OPEC and its non-OPEC allies agreed to extend their output cuts into 2020, Trump tweeted: “Oil prices are too high, OPEC is at it again. Not good!”

Lower oil prices translate to more affordable gas prices for American consumers, something the president wants to ensure ahead of an election year.

Abdulaziz said Thursday that OPEC and non-OPEC partners would consider deeper production cuts at its next full meeting.

A seasoned veteran of the kingdom’s delegation to OPEC with years of experience in the industry, Abdulaziz is the first member of the ruling Al Saud family to hold a position in the massive energy ministry. He told reporters on Monday during the World Energy Congress that there would be no changes to the oil policy of Saudi Arabia, which has taken on the brunt of the OPEC cuts, pumping well below its 10 million barrel per day (bpd) target.

Pushing oil prices higher does not seem feasible at this point, even with production cuts, many analysts agree — the International Energy Agency recently announced its lowest growth forecasts for oil demand in a decade, with demand growth for the first half of 2019 at a paltry 500,000 bpd. Most see Brent crude hovering in the $50 to $60 per barrel range.

The full OPEC+ coalition will next meet in Vienna, Austria in early December to decide whether any further action to stabilize oil markets is required for 2020.

Saudi Arabia’s new Energy Minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman speaks during a panel discussion at the 24th World Energy Congress in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates September 9, 2019.

Satish Kumar | Reuters

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