President Trump aimed pointed criticism at the OPEC oil cartel on Twitter Wednesday, saying it was “doing little to help” high gas prices in the U.S.
“If anything, they are driving prices higher as the United States defends many of their members for very little $’s,” Trump claimed. “This must be a two way street. REDUCE PRICING NOW!”
Last month, OPEC’s 15 member states agreed to to pump one million barrels more crude oil daily, a move that should help contain the recent rise in global energy prices. However, there has been little discernible effect on American gas prices.
According to AAA, the national average gas price Wednesday was $2.86 per gallon, the highest in four years. However, the organization said that was 11 cents cheaper than the average price this past Memorial Day.
Over the weekend, Trump said he had received assurances from King Salman of Saudi Arabia that the kingdom would increase oil production by “maybe up to 2,000,000 barrels.” Saudi Arabia acknowledged the call took place, but mentioned no production targets.
The Trump administration has pushed U.S. allies to end all purchases of oil from Iran after the president pulled America out of the 2015 nuclear deal this past May. Prices also have risen with ongoing unrest in Venezuela and fighting in Libya over control of that country’s oil infrastructure.
The administration has been counting on Saudi Arabia and the other OPEC members to supply enough oil to offset the lost Iranian exports and prevent oil prices from rising sharply.
On Wednesday, the price of Brent crude oil stood at $78.16 a barrel, while U.S. benchmark crude stood at $74.14 a barrel
Saudi Arabia currently produces some 10 million barrels of crude oil a day. Its record is 10.72 million barrels a day. Trump’s tweet offered no timeframe for the additional 2 million barrels — whether that meant per day or per month.
However, Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser told journalists in India on Monday that the state oil company has spare capacity of 2 million barrels of oil a day. That was after Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said the kingdom would honor the OPEC decision to stick to a 1-million-barrel increase.
“Saudi Arabia obviously can deliver as much as the market would need, but we’re going to be respectful of the 1-million-barrel cap — and at the same time be respectful of allocating some of that to countries that deliver it,” al-Falih said then.
The administration has threatened close allies such as South Korea with sanctions if they don’t cut off Iranian imports by early November. South Korea accounted for 14 percent of Iran’s oil exports last year, according to the U.S. Energy Department.
China is the largest importer of Iranian oil with 24 percent, followed by India with 18 percent. Turkey stood at 9 percent and Italy at 7 percent.
The State Department has said it expects the “vast majority” of countries will comply with the U.S. request.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.