July 9, 2018 / 9:52 PM / 4 months ago

Do not blame OPEC, oil producer group says of Trump criticism

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - The president of OPEC defended the oil producer group on Monday against U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent demands for higher oil output, saying OPEC does not shoulder the blame.

FILE PHOTO: UAE's Oil Minister OPEC President Suhail Mohamed Al Mazrouei addresses a news conference after an OPEC meeting in Vienna, Austria, June 22, 2018. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader/File Photo

“OPEC alone cannot be blamed for all the problems that are happening in the oil industry, but at the same time we were responsive in terms of the measures we took in our latest meeting in June,” Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries President Suhail al-Mazrouei told Reuters in an interview in Calgary, Alberta.

“I feel OPEC is doing its part.”

Trump has accused OPEC in recent weeks of driving gasoline prices higher and stepped up pressure on U.S. ally Saudi Arabia to raise supplies to compensate for lower exports from Iran.

Washington has warned that it will impose sanctions on foreign companies that do business with Iran, in an effort to cut Iran’s exports of crude oil and condensates to zero from over 2 million barrels per day.

Mazrouei said OPEC was willing to listen to major oil-producing countries, including the United States.

OPEC agreed in June on a modest increase in oil production starting in July after its leader, Saudi Arabia, persuaded arch-rival Iran to cooperate, following calls from major consumers to curb rising fuel costs.

Global oil prices LCOc1 have climbed steadily this year, helped by rising demand, and topped $80 per barrel in May for the first time in 3-1/2 years.

Mazrouei, who also serves as energy minister of the United Arab Emirates, said OPEC member crude producers had enough capacity to handle any unforeseen global supply disruptions. OPEC is seeking a balance between supply and demand, not targeting a crude price, he said.

The UAE alone has 400,000 to 600,000 barrels per day of additional capacity, he said.

Mazrouei said he did not anticipate needing to call any extraordinary meeting of OPEC member countries before a scheduled meeting in December.

The OPEC president is in Canada during its annual Calgary Stampede, a rodeo that serves as the year’s biggest oil-industry networking party. Mazrouei is scheduled to speak on Wednesday to a business group that promotes stronger trade ties between Canada and the UAE.

Reporting by Marcy Nicholson in Calgary, Alberta; Writing by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Editing by James Dalgleish and Peter Cooney

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