Apr 29, 2019

Catch up fast: The mystery of Trump's OPEC call about gas prices

Donald Trump with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud. Photo: Bandar Algaloud / Saudi Kingdom Council / Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

President Trump told reporters on Friday that "gasoline prices are coming down. I called up OPEC. I said, 'You got to bring them down. You got to bring them down.' And gasoline is coming down.'"

  • Later in the day Trump tweeted, "Spoke to Saudi Arabia and others about increasing oil flow."

But, but, but: The Wall Street Journal reports that Trump hasn't spoken with OPEC's secretary general or the oil minister with Saudi Arabia, OPEC's most powerful producer.

  • And per Bloomberg, Trump "hasn’t spoken to anyone at OPEC’s headquarters to discuss oil production."

The intrigue: White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, said in a statement Saturday, "The White House is in regular contact with the world’s leading energy producing nations, including OPEC members." She added... 

"As recently as last week, White House officials met with a delegation from the Saudi Ministry of Energy, which included high-level representatives to OPEC, in Washington to discuss global oil markets and to ensure global demand is met after all Iranian oil is removed from the market."

Where it stands: Oil prices are heading downward on Monday after dropping by roughly 3% on Friday, a stark contrast to the price spike that followed last Monday's announcement of tighter sanctions against Iran.

  • “The U.S. president clearly on-boarded the Saudis before tightening the screws on Iran,” PVM Oil Associates' Stephen Brennock tells Bloomberg.

The big picture: Trump has often prodded OPEC via Twitter to argue for lower oil prices.

  • The latest comments arrive at a tricky time for the administration, which is seeking to choke off more of Iran's crude exports without seeing rises in consumer costs that create domestic political risks.

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 1 p.m. ET: 1,237,420 — Total deaths: 67,260 — Total recoveries: 252,944Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 1 p.m. ET: 312,762 — Total deaths: 9.132 — Total recoveries: 15,044Map.
  3. Public health latest: CDC launches national trackers and recommends face coverings in public. Federal government will cover costs of COVID-19 treatment for uninsured. Surgeon general says this week will be "our Pearl Harbor, our 9/11 moment."
  4. 2020 latest: "We have no contingency plan," Trump said on the 2020 Republican National Convention. Biden says DNC may have to hold virtual convention.
  5. States updates: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state "literally going day-to-day" with supplies.
  6. Work update: Employees still going to work face temperature checks, distanced work stations, protective devices and mass absences.
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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