Saudi Arabia has signaled its support for Russia as a continued member of the OPEC+ oil cartel, which comes amid ongoing Western pressure to sanction and isolate Moscow over the Ukraine invasion. Saudi energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman told the Financial Times in an interview published on May 22 that he sees Russia as an integral part of the OPEC+ group of oil producers, adding that politics should be kept out of the alliance.
He said Saudi Arabia hopes “to work an agreement with OPEC+ … which includes Russia,” referring to a new crude production deal. Oil pumping quotas under the current OPEC+ agreement struck in 2020 are set to expire in several months.
While the United States banned oil imports from Russia in March, member states of the European Union remain divided on phasing out Russian crude imports.
OPEC and its allies are unwinding record output cuts put in place during the worst of the pandemic in 2020, although they have rebuffed Western pressure to raise output at a faster pace as energy consumers grapple with the highest oil prices in years.
Oil prices surged above $130 per barrel in March over concerns of disrupted supplies from Russia, although they have since eased.
Brent crude futures rose by 22 cents to $112.77 a barrel by mid-afternoon on May 23, while the U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude fell 49 cents to $109.79.
In his interview with the Financial Times, Prince Abdulaziz blamed soaring gasoline prices on taxes and a lack of global refining capacity.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said that the Russia–Ukraine conflict has injected greater volatility into oil markets.