Business

Crude dips as Trump says he will not accept high oil prices

U.S. President Donald Trump criticized OPEC on Friday for output curbs that have helped raise global oil prices and said "artificially" high prices would not be accepted, drawing rebukes from oil-producing countries as prices dipped following his remarks.

Oil prices retreat from highest levels since Nov. 2014

Oil prices dipped Thursday after U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted his displeasure with OPEC, calling the current price of crude "very artificially high." (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

U.S. President Donald Trump criticized OPEC on Friday for output curbs that have helped raise global oil prices and said "artificially" high prices would not be accepted, drawing rebukes from oil-producing countries as prices dipped following his remarks.

"Looks like OPEC is at it again. With record amounts of Oil all over the place, including the fully loaded ships at sea. Oil prices are artificially Very High! No good and will not be accepted!" Trump wrote on Twitter.

Several members of OPEC, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, said in response that oil prices were not being artificially inflated. The group is slated to meet in June to decide its next steps after reducing output since January 2017 in a move aimed at supporting prices that had fallen sharply.

Trump gave no details on what action his administration might take regarding oil or OPEC, and representatives for the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Oil prices fell after Trump's remarks but were still set for a weekly gain.

OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo said the pact between OPEC and non-OPEC countries to cut production had halted the collapse in global oil prices, and said the group was a friend of the United States with an interest in its prosperity.

Output cuts "not only arrested the decline but rescued the oil industry from imminent collapse and is now on course to restore stability on a sustainable basis in the interest of producers, consumers and the global economy," Barkindo said.

Energy ministers from the United Arab Emirates and Iraq, two OPEC members, also rejected the notion that prices were too high.

Brent crude oil futures and U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures hit their highest levels since November 2014 earlier this week, at $74.75 and $69.56 US per barrel respectively, buoyed by a tightening market and higher demand.

Following Trump's tweet on Friday, oil futures initially dropped, but then regained lost ground. Brent futures were at $73.94 per barrel, up 16 cents from their last close. WTI futures settled up seven cents at $68.40 a barrel.

The United States cannot legally influence oil other than through releasing oil from its strategic reserves which it has done occasionally, most recently last year in the wake of tropical storm Harvey.

Expectations of Iran sanctions

Beyond OPEC's supply management, crude prices have also been supported by an expectation that the United States will re-introduce sanctions on OPEC-member Iran.

"The first key geopolitical issue is the expiration of the current U.S. waiver of key sanctions against Iran," said Standard Chartered Bank in a note this week.

Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia would be happy to see crude rise to $80 or even $100 a barrel, three industry sources have told Reuters, a sign Riyadh will seek no changes to the OPEC supply-cutting deal even though the agreement's original target is within sight.

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