OPEC+ will keep politics out of its decision-making, according to Saudi Arabia’s oil minister, in favour of the “common good” of stabilizing energy prices.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, governments and international organisations around the world imposed punitive sanctions and severed economic ties with the country, but OPEC — the intergovernmental organisation of 13 oil exporting countries — appears unwilling to act against Russia, a key partner in the wider OPEC+ alliance and a major oil exporter.
Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud told CNBC on Tuesday that the organization’s very existence was contingent on separating its mandate to stabilise oil prices from other geopolitical issues, even if a widely-condemned event occurred.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates voted in favour of a United Nations General Assembly resolution earlier this month urging Russia to end the invasion and withdraw all troops, and Prince Abdulaziz said the Kingdom could express its views on Russia’s actions in other forums, which is in line with the global response.
“When it comes to OPEC+ — I would take that privilege of saying I’ve been at it for 35 years, and I know how we managed to compartmentalize our political differences from what is for the common good of all of us,” Prince Abdulaziz told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble at the World Government Summit in Dubai on Tuesday.
“That culture is seeped into OPEC+, so when we get into that OPEC meeting room, or OPEC building, everybody leaves his politics at the outside door of that building, and that culture has been with us.”
OPEC and OPEC+, which was founded when non-OPEC countries, including Russia, agreed to output cuts, had dealt with many countries mired in conflict or acts of aggression throughout their history, including Iraq and Iran, according to the energy minister.
“The reason we have managed to maintain OPEC+ is that we discuss these matters, these issues, in an entirely siloed type of approach whereby we are much more focused on the common good, regardless of the politics,” he added.
UAE Energy Minister Suhail Al Mazrouei supported Prince Abdulaziz’s remarks, emphasising that the organisation had continued to operate while constituent nations were at odds, without taking sides. Its sole mission, he stressed, is to “stabilise the market.”
“Our aim is to calm the market, trying to come up with volumes as much as possible, and if we are asking anyone to leave, then we are raising the prices,” he said.
“Then we are doing something that is against what the consumers want, what the consumers are crying for in many countries around the world, who cannot probably afford where the prices could go.”
Countries might unilaterally refuse to buy Russian oil, according to Al Mazrouei, but the organization’s ethos would be violated if members were pushed out.
(Adapted from CNBC.com)