WASHINGTON D.C.: US President Joe Biden’s top aides are pressuring the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies to boost oil output to tackle rising gasoline prices that they see as a threat to global economic recovery.
Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan criticized the world’s major oil producers for what he said were insufficient crude production levels in the aftermath of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“At a critical moment in the global recovery, this is simply not enough,” he said in a statement.
US gasoline prices are running at about $3.18 a gallon at the pumps, up more than a dollar from last year at this time, according to the American Automobile Association.
The unusual statement ratcheted up international pressure and comes as the administration tries to contain a range of rising prices and supply bottlenecks across the economy that have fueled inflation concerns.
Biden has made recovering from the economic recession triggered by the pandemic a key priority for his administration.
The message also underscored the new dynamic between Washington and OPEC since Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, broke with prior practice in demanding specific policy changes to adjust prices.
Biden’s administration is pressing countries within OPEC+, which groups the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries with Russia and other big producers, “on the importance of competitive markets in setting prices,” Sullivan said. “Higher gasoline costs, if left unchecked, risk harming the ongoing global recovery,” he added. “OPEC+ must do more to support the recovery.”
International benchmark Brent crude was trading at around $70 a barrel on Wednesday, down half a percent, after the US issued its statement. That is lower than the prices above $77 in early July, but still represents an increase of nearly a third from the beginning of the year.