Saudi Arabia has 'no intention' of repeating 1973 oil embargo

Saudi Arabia has rejected suggestions that it may restrict global oil supply in response to international pr...

Posted: Oct 22, 2018 2:56 PM
Updated: Oct 22, 2018 2:56 PM

Saudi Arabia has rejected suggestions that it may restrict global oil supply in response to international pressure over the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at its consulate in Istanbul.

Asked whether there could be a repetition of the 1973 oil embargo when Saudi Arabia and its allies cut off oil supplies to the United States, the kingdom's energy minister Khalid Al Falih said: "There is no intention."

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"We suffered in the past from political crises, this is not the first time," Al Falih told Russian news agency Tass. "But Saudi Arabia is a very responsible country, for decades we used our oil policy as [a] responsible economic tool and isolated it from politics."

"So let's hope that the world would deal with the political crisis, including the one with Saudi citizen in Turkey, with wisdom. And we will exercise our wisdom both in political and economic fronts."

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, was last seen entering the Saudi consulate on October 2. Saudi Arabia initially denied any knowledge of what happened to him, but on Friday admitted that he died inside the consulate.

US senators from both parties are pressing the Trump administration to get to the bottom of what happened, and some lawmakers are calling for sanctions. Saudi Arabia said last week it would retaliate against any economic sanctions or political pressure. And a leading Saudi media commentator raised the possibility of cutting oil supply.

Oil markets have so far largely shrugged off that suggestion but traders are on edge because supplies could run tight when Iranian exports are hit by US sanctions again next month.

Saudi Arabia has previously said it is willing, along with Russia, to plug that gap. And it has already ramped up production in recent months to make up for reduced output by other OPEC countries such as Venezuela and Libya.

In the Tass interview, Al Falih said Saudi Arabia is currently pumping around 10.7 million barrels of oil a day, up about 850,000 barrels since June.

Analysts worry that the kingdom could struggle to deliver enough oil to prevent prices climbing towards $100 a barrel, or that it could choose to slow-walk future increases in response to pressure from the United States.

Al Falih said Saudi Arabia could lift production, if necessary, to 12 million barrels per day, but couldn't guarantee that would be enough.

"If 3 million barrels per day disappears, we cannot cover this volume," Al Falih said.

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