Trump tells OPEC to lower oil prices

Trump tells OPEC to lower oil prices

US President Donald Trump on Thursday once again tweeted his belief that major oil producers in the Middle East were conspiring to keep oil prices high, and he seemed to threaten the withdrawal of military resources from the region if the OPEC cartel did not help to lower prices.

"We protect the countries of the Middle East, they would not be safe for very long without us, and yet they continue to push for higher and higher oil prices!" he tweeted. USA crude oil accounted for 19 percent of total East Coast crude inputs for the first half of 2018, compared with 48 percent in the same period of 2015, when the Brent-WTI price spread also averaged $5 per barrel.

Jason Gammel, analyst at US bank Jefferies, said he expects Saudi Arabia to try to keep the oil market adequately supplied into 2019, "but at the cost of spare capacity", a key supply buffer to prevent oil price volatility.

OPEC with a group of non-OPEC producers that includes Russian Federation started withholding oil supplies in 2017 to end a global glut and prop up prices.

Prices dipped as low at $70 in London in August, but have since risen as American sanctions began to significantly curb Iran's oil exports.

Rising U.S. gasoline prices could create a political headache for Trump before November congressional elections by offsetting Republican tax cuts.

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Despite Thursday's losses, Brent prices have flirted with $80 a barrel this month, the highest price since May.

The new sanctions take effect in November, as a result of with Trump's decision to pull out of a 2015 agreement on Iran's nuclear program.

For this year's April-to-September driving season, the Energy Information Administration expects USA petrol prices to be up 19% from a year ago, mostly because of expectations for higher crude-oil prices.

USA crude was on track to end the week up 2.5 percent and Brent to post a 0.9 percent gain.

Although supply worries have pushed up oil prices, Opec and its allies were not likely to agree to an official increase in crude output at this weekend's meeting, Opec sources said. Within a month, the kingdom had performed a dramatic U-turn and by June the cartel and its allies were promising to add 1 million barrels a day to the oil market.

Opec and its allies are scheduled to meet on Sunday in Algeria to discuss how to allocate supply increases to offset a shortage of Iran supplies due to United States sanctions.

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