Candidate Joe Biden promised in 2019 to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” over the kingdom’s human rights record. President Biden, confronted by economic reality, reversed himself.
With gasoline prices near record highs and inflation fears mounting, Biden visited OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia last month. Biden even fist-bumped Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who US intelligence directly linked to the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.
The President left Saudi Arabia without a public agreement from the kingdom to help out on gas prices, but White House officials expressed optimism that help was indeed on the way.
Now, it’s clear that Biden’s political gamble to make nice with MBS has not paid off in a significant way that Americans will feel at the gas pump, at least not yet.
OPEC+ announced Wednesday a deal to increase oil production, but only by a token amount of 100,000 barrels per day.
That is not nearly enough to move the needle in a world that consumes 100 million barrels of oil every single day.
“That is miniscule, almost imperceptible,” Bob McNally, president of consulting firm Rapidan Energy Group, told CNN.
For context, OPEC+ announced a larger increase of 648,000 barrels per day in late June.
This latest move amounts to the smallest increase in production on a percentage basis in OPEC history, according to analysis by McNally.
“OPEC+ did the absolute minimum. The market is interpreting this as just short of a rebuff,” he said. “It’s a purely symbolic gesture.”
Others go even further, describing the OPEC+ move as an insult given Biden’s journey to Saudi Arabia, the de facto leader of the producer group.
“It’s a slap in the face for the Biden administration. This trip, meeting with MBS, just didn’t work,” Matt Smith, lead oil analyst Americas at Kpler, told CNN.
Robert Yawger, vice president of energy futures at Mizuho Securities, similarly described the OPEC+ decision as a “slap in the face.”