Trump holds up a Presidential Memorandum as he announces U.S. withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal. Photo: The Washington Post via Getty
In a statement to Iranian news agency Shana on Thursday, Iran's OPEC minister, Hossein Kazempour Ardebili, addressed President Trump, who has been demanding on Twitter that OPEC lower oil prices, directly, hoping to set the record straight:
"Mr. President ... OPEC has not defined oil prices for the past 30 years. Your tweets have driven the prices up by at least $10/[barrel]. Please stop [tweeting], otherwise it will go even higher!"
The big picture: Ardebili argued that demanding lower oil prices may actually have had a hand in driving prices higher. OPEC agreed last month to increase oil production by 600,000 barrels per day to meet demand while avoiding too high a surfeit, but Trump continues to take aim at the organization for pushing oil prices too high.
Why it matters: Trump has made it a talking point that the U.S. spends too much money defending OPEC members to be subject to high oil prices, calling for a "two way street." Ardebili challenged that notion: "[T]here [isn't] that much oil available to respond to your orders, you are hammering on the good guys in OPEC [who you claim to defend]."
After OPEC agreed to increase production late last month, Trump claimed to have made a separate deal with Saudi Arabia to increase production by up to 2 million barrels per day. That's highly unlikely (Saudi Arabia's total spare capacity, which they use prudently, believed to be roughly 2 million barrels), but Ardebili said statements like that "discredit" OPEC members and the organization as a whole.
Be smart: The demands to increase production are aggravating tensions between the U.S. and some OPEC members. Trump wants greater supply from countries like Iran and Venezuela, even while he imposes greater sanctions on their economies.