Apr 6, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Trump hints at U.S. posture in global oil talks

Ben Geman, author of Generate

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump said Monday that OPEC has not explicitly asked him to press U.S. oil companies to cut production, but he added that U.S. output is slated to fall due to market forces as demand collapses.

Why it matters: The comments suggest how the U.S. could offer de facto participation in a wider international production-cutting deal, even though top-down mandates are not part of the U.S. market system.

  • "I think the cuts are automatic, if you're a believer in markets," Trump said at a White House briefing, adding companies are "already cutting" and "it's the market, it's supply and demand."

What's next: The OPEC+ group — led by Saudi Arabia and Russia — is set to meet remotely Thursday, to be followed by a remote meeting of G20 energy ministers on Friday.

  • But a global production-limiting agreement would be difficult for Saudi Arabia and Russia to accept without action by the U.S., the world's largest producer.
  • "Major oil producers including Saudi Arabia and Russia are likely to agree to cut production at a Thursday meeting but only if the United States joins the effort," Reuters reported Monday, citing OPEC+ sources.

What they're saying: "The G20 forum could provide space for a looser arrangement where explicit U.S. cuts are not necessarily required and market-led decreases in US production can potentially be repackaged as a U.S. contribution," the Eurasia Group said in a note Monday.

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