Why US politicians are trying to break the world's oil cartel now

A version of this story first appeared in CNN’s Meanwhile in the Middle East newsletter, 週に3回、この地域の最大のストーリーの内部を見る. ここでサインアップ.

アブダビ, アラブ首長国連邦 A decades-old, failed effort by United States politicians to break the chokehold of a select few countries on the oil market has found new life as the war in Ukraine raised prices to an almost 14-year high.

A US Senate committee on Thursday passed a bill that could expose the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its partnersmost prominently Russia — to lawsuits for collusion on boosting oil prices. The vote took place just hours after the cartel and its allies rebuffed the West once again and stuck to plans for a moderate modest ramp up in production.
To become law, the bill has to go through the full Senate and House, then be signed by the President. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the administration has concerns about thepotential implications and unintended consequencesof the legislation. She said the White House is still studying the bill.
    The bipartisan bill, インクルード “No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act of 2021” または “NOPEC,” would strip OPEC and its national oil companies from sovereign immunity that has protected them from lawsuits for decades. This means that oil states would no longer be immune from the jurisdiction of US courts if they breach terms of the bill if it turns into law.
      The Biden administration has struggled to control oil prices after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine disrupted energy markets and drove up inflation 自宅で. Western sanctions and a potential EU ban on Russian oil risks leaving a market gap that could exacerbate the situation. And with the midterm elections due in November, the window to calm inflation is getting narrower for the President.
          A CNN世論調査 released Wednesday showed that a majority of Americans think Biden’s policies have hurt the economy, 一方 8 に 10 say the government is not doing enough to combat inflation.
          Only Saudi Arabia and the UAE have the necessary spare capacity to immediately ward off any shocks caused by a Russian shortfall. The OPEC members have refused to raise output substantially, opting instead to stick to a series of gradual production increases agreed with Russia.
          Frustrated at Riyadh’s refusal to heed US calls for more oil, politicians from the President’s own party have been pushing him to get tougher on Riyadh. 先月, nearly three dozen House Democrats called on Biden torecalibratethe relationship with Saudi Arabia, calling it a bad strategic partner, 報告によると.
          We are not schoolchildren to be treated with a carrot and stick,” said senior Saudi prince Turki Al-Faisal 最近のインタビューで. He blamed the USown energy policiesfor the state they are in.
          While the NOPEC bill has unsuccessfully tried to make its way through Congress before, today’s landscape is very different, said Robin Mills, founder and CEO of Qamar Energy in Dubai.
          Mills told CNN why American politicians are making a new attempt to crush OPEC:
          How is this attempt different from earlier ones?
          There have been various versions of this since 2000, and it pops up whenever oil prices are high. It has never passed, and it never really got much traction. 今回, in the government, it has gotten more traction, partly around Russia.
          Biden is also under political pressure because of inflation. There is some political milage to blame OPEC for high oil process.
          How have Saudi Arabia and other OPEC states responded to such attempts in the past?
          They have always lobbied against it, and they will lobby again. I am not sure how strong their lobbying power is right now. They are not particularly popular in Washington at the moment, but they have their lobbyists.
          [有る] the US petroleum lobby as well, API [知事室から、ケンプは副知事のジェフ・ダンカンと下院議長のデビッド・ラルストンと協力して] and other organizations that have typically been against this bill なぜなら they benefit from OPEC restraining production and keeping prices high. So they tend to oppose this bill on the ground.
          How do you think oil producing states will respond to the bill?
          I don’t think Middle Eastern countries can keep restraining production and refuse to play the game. They can be more cooperative and agree to increase production [だが] they wouldn’t want to be seen doing that under pressure. The EU ban on Russian oil imports will take some time to have effect [そう] OPEC and OPEC+ could have a few extra months where it becomes clear that there is a shortage of oil, and that gives them a reason to say: “上手, we will increase production and makeup this gap.So they can do that as a market measure without appearing to give in to political pressure.
          How likely is this bill to be passed in the Senate and House? Is there a chance that Biden will pass it too?
          Having another card to play will be quite appealing to the administration, even if they don’t let it go all the way. The NOPEC bill is an additional element at a time when the US doesn’t have that many cards to play [against oil producers]. Many of those bills have come up in the past, and there is always some national security argument that [oil producing states] are our allies, that we don’t want to disturb our relationship with them, and that they are important to the oil market. But this time there are a few elements that may give it a better chance.
          [バイデン] would have to either let it pass, or he would have to say, “I have vetoed it because the Saudis agreed to something for us” [お気に入り] agree to increase production or something. He can’t just veto it for no reason because that is just one more weapon against him from both the Republicans and the Democratic progressive left, 彼は [doing the] Saudis a favor at a time when oil prices are high.
          Not vetoing it would be seen by Saudi Arabia and other producers as quite a hostile move.
          Could passing this bill have a detrimental effect on the US itself?
          The recovering prices have been very good for the US oil industry. But practically there isn’t that much spare capacity [in the US]. Even if Saudi and the UAE used all their spare capacity, the market is still pretty tight, and with Russia coming off, the market will get tighter.
          This transcript has been edited for length and clarity

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