US President Donald Trump said on Saturday that Saudi Arabia's King Salman had agreed to his request to increase oil production "maybe up to 2,000,000 barrels", an extraordinary amount not confirmed by the kingdom and which would push the OPEC leader to a level of production never tested before.
The statement reported by Saudi media did not mention any intention by Saudi Arabia to raise production by 2 million bpd. However, the price action on Friday suggests that buyers are still coming in and aggressively willing to chase this market higher. Just a week ago, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries reached an agreement to gradually increase output by about 700,000 barrels a day to stabilize oil prices and offset lost production in Venezuela, where political and oil patch upheaval has led to a drop of exports. "These higher oil prices are translating directly to soaring gas prices, something we know hurts middle- and lower-income people".
"King Salman affirmed that the Kingdom maintains a two million barrel per day spare capacity, which it will prudently use if and when necessary to ensure market balance", read the statement.
Saudi Arabia says that King Salman has spoken to President Donald Trump, but gave no mention of the 2 million barrels of extra production the American leader tweeted about earlier in the day.
Oil-producing Gulf countries will be the main beneficiaries of a recent decision by OPEC members to hike crude production by one million barrels per day, analysts said. Any 2 million bpd-increase would thus be at least double market expectations. "He has agreed!", Trump said on Twitter Saturday.
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Iranian exports have been running around 2.4 million barrels a day, according to the International Energy Agency. "It is expensive", an unnamed Saudi official told The Wall Street Journal.
It would also likely aggravate other OPEC members, such as Iran and Venezuela, which initially sought to prevent any increase as OPEC, along with allies led by Russian Federation, headed into their Vienna meetings earlier this month.
On Saturday, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the U.S. was trying to drive a wedge between Iranians and their government using "economic pressure". "While Saudi Arabia has the capacity in theory, it takes time and money to bring these barrels online, up to one year", she said. "It's certainly easy to imagine a scenario at this point where oil prices hit $100 again this year", said Jason Bordoff, director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University.
Mr Trump said the move was needed due to "turmoil and dysfunction in Iran and Venezuela". Trump ordered the re-imposition of U.S. sanctions against Iran that were suspended under the accord.