The United States and the European Union are seeking a further increase in oil production, but the main exporting countries are sticking to the latest producer agreements

OPEC stands firm against the West


The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) continues to avoid giving in to Western pressure for an increase in oil production to compensate for the price increases resulting from the sanctions imposed on Russia's energy sector for its invasion of Ukraine. The United States and the European Union have tried to increase the level of ten million barrels per day produced, but the oil entity does not yield to these intentions. 

The US and the EU imposed harsh economic punishments on the Russian state on account of the military intervention in Ukrainian territory, and the West has tried to pressure OPEC+, which brings together the main oil exporting nations plus other external partner countries such as Russia (now in the eye of the storm due to the war in Ukraine), to increase oil production and compensate for the current rise in prices and the eventual lack of supply if it continues along the path of adding the oil sector to the sanctions imposed on the country governed by Vladimir Putin.

"Current and future sanctions against Russia could create one of the worst impacts on oil supply in history," OPEC secretary general Mohammad Barkindo said. "It will be impossible to replace the potential losses in Russian oil supply," added Barkindo, who disassociated OPEC from the current changes in oil prices and other political issues. In this regard, OPEC+ will raise production by some 432,000 barrels per day next May. Although there is more demand from the West.

El secretario general de la OPEP, Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, durante el Foro Mundial de la Energía del Consejo Atlántico en la Expo 2020 de Dubái, Emiratos Árabes Unidos, el lunes 28 de marzo de 2022

According to the media Al-Arab, various specialists point out that OPEC points the finger at the West for pressuring the organisation of exporting countries to make certain moves to compensate for the sanctions against Russia, and that the West would be criticised for not agreeing to these demands. Meanwhile, the West argues that OPEC should guarantee the stability and balance of the oil market. 

EU sanctions have not yet covered Russian oil. But after the bloc of 27 European member states agreed a few days ago to impose sanctions on Russia's coal sector, the first measure to touch Russia's energy sector, EU officials said oil could be next. 

Gasoducto Power Of Siberia de Gazprom en la estación de compresores Atamanskaya, a las afueras de la ciudad de Svobodny, en el extremo oriental de Rusia

OPEC wants to disassociate Russia from this issue in the face of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, and the organisation is driven solely by its market interests when it comes to setting oil production, and it appears that oil production will not be increased despite pressure from the West. This pressure has now even reached India, with President Joe Biden urging Narendra Modi to stop importing Russian energy resources. 

This Monday, representatives of the European Union held talks in Vienna with representatives of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries. The European Commission called on OPEC to increase production to cope with the sharp rise in oil prices caused by the crisis in Ukraine, as has been indicated. 

El vicepresidente de la Comisión Europea encargado de la Alta Representante de la Unión para la Política Exterior y de Seguridad, Josep Borrell

Josep Borrell, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Policy, insisted on the possible application of more sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. "Sanctions are always on the table," he told reporters on his arrival at a meeting with EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg. He added that "the ministers will discuss the issue of further steps" that can be taken, as reported by the Al-Arab media. 

The UAE's own Energy Minister Suhail al-Mazrouei said the issue should be taken out of politics. Al-Mazrouei said that "Russia is an important member, and regardless of the politics, this volume (...) is required today, and unless someone is ready to come and bring ten million barrels, we don't see that one of them can replace Russia". Emirates is one of the countries that has already announced that it will not leave OPEC+ discipline and will not act unilaterally, despite Western pressure. "We are investing and increasing our production capacity to five million barrels, but this does not mean we will take unilateral action. We will work with the group to ensure market stability," Al-Mazrouei said.

El ministro de Energía de los Emiratos Árabes Unidos, Suhail al-Mazrouei, durante el Foro Global de Energía del Consejo Atlántico en la Expo 2020 de Dubái, Emiratos Árabes Unidos, el lunes 28 de marzo de 2022

In addition, Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said that the OPEC+ alliance does not get involved in politics in this case and acts according to the needs of the market. Thus, he also follows what is decided within OPEC+ without yielding to political impositions. 

Saudi Arabia and the Emirates already sent a message to the United States a few weeks ago that they would not give in to the indications made by Joe Biden regarding the request to increase oil production in order to deal with the rise in oil prices derived from the crisis in Ukraine. Both Arab countries also wanted to make it clear at the time that the United States should not interfere in their internal affairs and were cool towards relations with the American giant, as they consider that the US has put aside the Middle East to focus more on the Indo-Pacific in order to confront the great economic and political rise of China, its great rival at present. 

El presidente Joe Biden en un discurso en el Jardín de las Rosas de la Casa Blanca en Washington, el lunes 11 de abril de 2022

Important underlying issues here involve the US abandonment of Afghanistan and the lack of greater US support, especially arms, for the Saudi-led and Emirati-backed Arab coalition fighting the war in Yemen against the Houthi rebels supported by the Islamic Republic of Iran, Saudi Arabia's great regional rival. 

The relationship is not the best right now, and this also coincides with the alignment of the main Arab oil-exporting countries, which do not seem to be willing to compromise with Western demands, mainly from the United States, for further increases in oil production over and above what has already been agreed within OPEC.

Americas Coordinator: José Antonio Sierra.