‘We want the same thing’: Saudi energy chief encouraged by Trump policies

by WorldTribune Staff, February 9, 2017

U.S. President Donald Trump is finding an unlikely energy ally in Saudi Arabia.

Though Trump during the campaign singled out Saudi as a country that would find its oil exports to the U.S. blocked, Saudi Minister of Energy Khalid al-Falih said the kingdom is encouraged by “the pro-industry, pro-oil and gas policies of the Trump administration.”

Saudi Minister of Energy Khalid al-Falih

“President Trump has policies which are good for the oil industry and I think we have to acknowledge it,” al-Falih said. “We want the same thing.”

Al-Falih said that Saudi Arabia may even invest more than the billions of dollars already in the U.S. refining and distribution industry, Oilprice.com reported on Feb. 7.

When asked by the BBC’s Lyse Doucet why he wasn’t worried when Trump said he wanted the U.S. to have complete energy independence from the oil cartels, al-Falih replied, “Well, we’re not the foes.” When Doucet noted, “But you are the oil cartel” al-Falih said he looked forward to working with the U.S. Energy Secretary.

Al-Falih said that Trump’s determination for the U.S. to “pump till it drops” would be supported so long as it “grows in line with global energy demand.”

According to traders’ estimates compiled by Reuters, the U.S. is expected to export between 700,000 and 900,000 barrels per day (bpd) this month, most of which is bound for Asia. If those numbers hold, February would see the highest U.S. crude oil exports on record.

Meanwhile, Iran said it plans to maintain oil production at around 3.8 million bpd, the level agreed upon at the November OPEC meeting. In order to do so, Iran will need to attract billions in new investment, as its current production is based on aging fields and crumbling infrastructure, Oilprice.com reported.

“To maintain the current production level while continuing to export and meet domestic demand, Iran will need at least $100 billion in new investment,” the report said.

New U.S. sanctions, which target 25 Iranian individuals and entities said to be associated with the country’s missile program, is being touted as an “initial step” in the Trump administration’s plan to push back on Iran’s regional ambitions, with National Security Adviser Michael Flynn announcing last week the U.S. was “putting Iran on notice.”

The Iranian response has been mostly dismissive, with one Iranian official characterizing the Trump administration as “inexperienced.”

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