- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 5, 2022

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its Russia-led allies, known as OPEC+, on Wednesday said it will reduce the amount of oil it produces by 2 million barrels per day starting in November, a move that is likely to drive up oil and gasoline prices in an already tight global market.

That will mean higher costs for drivers as voters head to the polls in a few weeks with inflation looming large. 

Patrick de Haan, founder of the fuel-price tracking service GasBuddy, estimated the decreased output could amount to prices at the pump rising in the U.S. by roughly 15 to 30 cents per gallon.

A silver lining is that the impact will be somewhat blunted, because OPEC+ was already not meeting its set output quotas. OPEC, which does not include Russia, has produced a daily average of 28.6 million barrels this year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The cartel’s reduction is twice what was expected and akin to roughly 2% of the world’s daily usage, a decision that came despite intense lobbying from the U.S. and other countries. It comes ahead of a European ban on most Russian imports taking effect in December and an expected price cap by Western countries, which could further constrict supply.

President Biden said he was concerned about the decision and labeled it “unnecessary,” according to reporters traveling with him to hurricane-ravaged Florida.

In a joint statement, national security adviser Jake Sullivan and National Economic Council Director Brian Deese said Mr. Biden was “disappointed by the shortsighted decision” and the move should act as a “reminder of why it is so critical that the United States reduce its reliance on foreign sources of fossil fuels.” 

The officials said that Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm will explore any action the administration could take to immediately boost production and that Mr. Biden will consult with Congress about any potential tools at their disposal. As part of a 180 million-barrel release from strategic reserves that began in May, the men said another 10 million barrels will be released next month.

OPEC+ justified its decision by saying it was based on “uncertainty that surrounds the global economic and oil market outlooks, and the need to enhance the long-term guidance for the oil market.”

This despite intense pressure from top Biden administration officials launching a last-ditch campaign against their foreign counterparts not to curb output, multiple outlets reported. The U.S. and other countries have previously accused the oil-rich nations of weaponizing energy amid tight supplies and boycotts of Russian oil by the West. 

A meeting between Mr. Biden and the oil cartel’s de facto leader, Saudi Arabia, over the summer failed to secure any significant production commitments.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the ranking Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, hammered Mr. Biden over his domestic energy policies.

“Instead of flipping the switch for more American energy production and making us energy independent again, his administration has repeatedly chosen to beg authoritarian regimes, release strategic reserves for political expediency and surrender our energy leadership for a rush-to-green agenda,” the Washington lawmaker said in a statement.

• Ramsey Touchberry can be reached at rtouchberry@washingtontimes.com.

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