Top White House aide discussed oil prices with Saudi Arabia

Jake Sullivan (above) met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia on Sept 28, 2021 to discuss the war in Yemen. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - A senior aide to United States President Joe Biden raised the issue of oil prices in conversations this week with the leadership of top crude producer Saudi Arabia, according to the White House.

Biden's national security adviser Jake Sullivan met in Saudi Arabia with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday (Sept 28) to discuss the war in Yemen. But White House press secretary Jen Psaki said oil was also "of concern" and on the agenda.

"The national security adviser and his team reiterated the imperative of creating conditions to support global economic recovery in his meetings earlier this week," said another White House spokesman on Thursday.

The Biden administration has previously said such conditions include having more oil on the market to stop rising energy prices and help the economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

"The United States continues to speak to international partners, including OPEC (Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries), on the importance of competitive markets in setting prices and doing more to support the recovery," the spokesperson said.

OPEC and allies including Russia, a group known as OPEC+, are expected next week to hold to a pact to add 400,000 barrels per day to their output for November.

But four sources also told Reuters that the group, which is strongly influenced by Riyadh, is considering a scenario in which they could up production as soon as November to meet significant demand.

Benchmark international Brent oil prices traded at US$78.52 a barrel on Thursday, just shy of a three-year high, with average gasoline prices in the United States roughly a dollar higher per gallon than a year ago.

The push from the White House comes even as the administration has emphasised fighting the effects of climate change, which is caused by burning fossil fuels.

Yet rising prices on scores of goods and services have threatened to undermine an economic rebound that has been a primary focus of Mr Biden's presidency.

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