Updated Oct 12, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Biden "to re-evaluate" U.S.-Saudi relationship after OPEC oil cut

President Biden with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on July 15.

President Biden with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on July 15. Photo: Royal Court of Saudi Arabia/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

President Biden will "continue to re-evaluate" the U.S.' relationship with Saudi Arabia after a group of international oil exporters and Russia decided to significantly cut oil production in response to falling fuel prices, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told CNN on Tuesday.

The latest: Biden told CNN in an interview broadcast Tuesday there would be "consequences" for Saudi Arabia over the decision to cut oil output, declining to elaborate further.

Driving the news: The White House warned last week that Biden may support legislation aimed at reducing OPEC’s control over energy prices, suggesting Biden is considering a new, escalatory approach with the Saudis, Axios' Alayna Treene and Hans Nichols report.

  • Kirby reiterated this warning Tuesday, stressing that Biden is "willing" to work with Congress to redefine relations.

Why it matters: OPEC+'s decision to slash oil production by 2 million barrels per day starting in November could have a ripple effect around the world. In the US, the move could increase the price of gas again — right before the midterm elections, Axios' Ben Geman reports.

What they're saying: "I think the president’s been very clear that this is a relationship that we need to continue to re-evaluate, that we need to be willing to revisit," Kirby told CNN.

  • "And certainly in light of the OPEC decision, I think that's where he is, and he's willing to work with Congress to think through what that relationship ought to look like going forward," Kirby added.
  • Kirby added later in a call with reporters that OPEC's move to cut production was “a short-sighted decision and that it benefited Russia, at a time when nobody, in any capacity, should be trying to benefit Vladimir Putin."

For Saudi Arabia's part, Oil Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman has said OPEC+ was just trying to get ahead of a potential reduction in demand, Axios' Dave Lawler reports.

The big picture: Biden administration officials attempted to dissuade OPEC+ from the decision with a last-minute lobbying effort earlier this month, saying the the cut could be a "total disaster" and may be interpreted as a "hostile act," according to CNN.

  • Biden faced backlash in the summer for his trip to Saudi Arabia and fist-bump with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman before a meeting, which was meant to recalibrate U.S.-Saudi ties and bolster U.S. influence in the region.

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Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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