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Saudis blast Biden’s manipulation, depletion of US oil reserve for political purposes

President Joe Biden pauses as he delivers remarks on Protecting Access to Reproductive Health Services in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on July 8, 2022, in Washington, D.C. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)
October 26, 2022

After President Joe Biden announced last week that his administration is authorizing the release of another 15 million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, Saudi Arabia’s energy minister criticized such moves and warned that “losing emergency stock may become painful in the months to come.”

During an investor conference on Tuesday, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman spoke generally about the dangers countries face by depleting their emergency oil stocks, AFP reported. While the prince did not specifically name Biden, his criticism comes amid oil-related tensions between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.

“People are depleting their emergency stocks, had depleted it, used it as a mechanism to manipulate markets while its profound purpose was to mitigate shortage of supply,” the prince said.

“However, it is my profound duty to make it clear to the world that losing emergency stock may become painful in the months to come,” he added.

The White House’s latest pull from the oil reserves will complete the “historic, 180-million-barrel drawdown” that President Biden announced earlier this year. Biden has overseen the biggest drop in the U.S. strategic petroleum reserve since the reserve began in 1977 and the supply is now at its lowest point in nearly 40 years.

The prince’s comments come after OPEC+, a group of oil-exporting countries led by Saudi Arabia, announced its decision to cut 2 million barrels a day. The Biden administration had requested a one-month delay to the cut, according to the Saudi Arabian foreign ministry. The delay could have helped keep U.S. gas prices down, potentially helping Democratic candidates in November’s midterm elections.

The Saudis insisted that the cut was “purely” economic, intended to balance supply-and-demand and manage price volatility, adding that it was “adopted through consensus,” not dictated by a single country. The Biden administration still rejected the decision and accused Saudi Arabia of “aligning with Russia” amid its ongoing war with Ukraine.

Prince Abdulaziz pushed back on the White House’s accusations.

“I keep listening, are you with us or against us? Is there any room for, ‘We are for Saudi Arabia and for the people of Saudi Arabia’?” Prince Abdulaziz said.

“I think we as Saudi Arabia decided to be the maturer guys and let the dice fall,” the prince added, speaking to the wavering relationship between his nation and the U.S.