Intel: Saudis to discuss oil price war with new Republican detractors

al-monitor US Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND), speaks to the media during a recess in the impeachment trial of US President Donald Trump at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, Feb. 3, 2020. Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images.

Topics covered

coronavirus, opec, saudi oil, oil prices, us-saudi relations, congress, republican party

Apr 8, 2020

Saudi officials will hold a phone call to discuss the kingdom’s record high oil output with two Republican senators that have become the ringleaders in conservative efforts to pressure Riyadh into ending the price war, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

Senators Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., and Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, will speak with the kingdom’s representatives two days after Saudi Arabia holds a telemeeting with its fellow OPEC members and Russia in a bid to end the price war.

Why it matters: Cramer and Sullivan have assembled a coalition of formerly pro-Saudi Republicans that had served as the embattled kingdom’s last line of defense in an increasingly hostile Congress to pressure Riyadh. Most of Saudi Arabia’s new Republican critics hail from oil-rich states severely impacted by the price war, which has resulted in industry-wide layoffs throughout the country exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cramer has vowed not to oppose any anti-Saudi legislation until the price war ends and has joined Sullivan in introducing a bill that would pull US troops and missile defenses meant to deter Iran out of the kingdom and relocate them elsewhere in the Middle East. Meanwhile, Senate Armed Services Chairman James Inhofe, R-Okla., has called on President Donald Trump to slap tariffs on Saudi and Russian oil.

What’s next: Saudi Arabia hopes to ramp up its oil output this month to as much as 12.3 million barrels per day — a historic high. The ability of Saudi Arabia to reach an agreement with its fellow OPEC members during Thursday’s virtual meeting will likely determine the tone of the phone call with Cramer and Sullivan on Saturday.

Know more: Amid the heightened anti-Saudi sentiment on Capitol Hill, House Democrats are taking another look at ending US support for the kingdom in its fight against Yemen’s Houthi rebels in this year’s defense bill, congressional correspondent Bryant Harris reports. And don’t miss his in-depth story outlining how the price war has prompted Republicans such as Cramer and Sullivan to take a 180 on Saudi Arabia.

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