The odds are pretty good that anti-OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) legislation could eventually win the approval of Congress, given rising anti-Russian and Saudi Arabia sentiment, including anger over President Trump's response to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and the subsequent resurgence of progressive Democrats in the House of Representatives.
For decades, OPEC has been an economic bogeyman to the United States, and for much of the time since its founding in 1960, the cartel has deserved that status. But the time to see OPEC, particularly Saudi Arabia, as an enemy has passed. Punishing OPEC would be a mistake, no matter how popular it is with voters.
American consumers and policymakers have not forgotten the oil embargoes and gas lines of the 1970s, the remarkable run-up in oil prices
to nearly $150 a barrel in 2008, or the price collapse
in 2014 the drove companies into bankruptcy and cost American jobs
, all prompted by the anti-market activities of OPEC. But over the past five years, OPEC has become an integral partner in America's energy security by regulating the supply of oil and maintaining a generally fair oil price.
OPEC's moderating role has allowed the US oil sector to achieve record oil production
and has made America a major energy exporter — something that seemed impossible less than a decade ago. More often than not in recent years, the cartel has succeeded in keeping the price of oil just high enough to spur investment in new shale fields, but low enough to keep consumers happy.
Consistently hitting such a sweet spot is no easy task, and it's why the Saudis should be considered a partner rather than an adversary. What may not be understood in the marble halls of Congress is that OPEC, particularly Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates, hold the lowest-cost oil reserves in the world. Iran also has vast reserves of low-cost conventional oil, but US sanctions
have mostly sidelined its production.