As it turns out, yelling at oil-producing countries to increase their output does not do the trick.
President Donald Trump has again lashed out at an international body — this time, it’s the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which he accused Wednesday afternoon of driving up gas prices. He called on them to increase their production (of course, via Twitter):
The OPEC Monopoly must remember that gas prices are up & they are doing little to help. If anything, they are driving prices higher as the United States defends many of their members for very little $’s. This must be a two way street. REDUCE PRICING NOW!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 4, 2018
It seems his earlier hope that Saudi Arabia would increase its output by 2 million barrels a day were dashed. The Saudis said on Tuesday that they would increase production to offset what’s not coming into the market from Venezuela and Iran (whose oil markets have been hobbled by sanctions), but did not say by how much.
But, so far, that hasn’t lowered oil prices, largely because of the turmoil caused by Venezuelan and Iranian oil sectors, as well Libya pulling hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil out of the market as a result of upheaval there. This isn’t the first time Trump has taken a shot at OPEC this summer, apparently worried that higher gas prices will dissuade voters from voting Republican in November’s midterm elections:
Hope OPEC will increase output substantially. Need to keep prices down!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2018
Oil prices are too high, OPEC is at it again. Not good!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 13, 2018
After all, higher prices at the pump would counter the president’s narrative that all is well in the American economy, which he claims to have successfully revived with his (mostly corporate) tax cuts President Trump is also anxious to compel European allies to stop buying oil from Iran, which the Trump administration is trying to further isolate with sanctions and by pulling out of the 2015 nuclear deal signed between the United States, Iran, China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany. Iran’s OPEC Governor Hossein Kazempour Ardebili on Thursday took a shot at President Trump’s comments, saying, “Your tweets have increased the prices by at least $10. Please stop this method.” Kazempour accused Trump of trying to ramp up tensions between Iran and its regional rival, Saudi Arabia. Iran, meanwhile, has renewed threats to close a major route for oil in the Persian Gulf. It has made similar threats in the past, prior to the 2015 nuclear deal.