Macron and Biden private oil output chat revealed
Oil-rich countries Saudi Arabia and the UAE cannot radically increase crude production anytime soon, French President Emmanuel Macron was overheard saying to his US counterpart Joe Biden on Monday.
The leaders were contemplating how to curb Russia’s oil revenue without triggering more energy price increases.
The brief conversation between Macron and Biden was filmed by reporters on the sidelines of the Group of Seven (G7) summit in southern Germany.
Macron told his US counterpart that he had a call with Emirati leader Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. “He told me two things. ‘I’m at a maximum [production capacity]’. This is what he claims,” Macron said.
The French president continued: “And then he said [the] Saudis can increase by 150 [thousands barrels per day]. Maybe a little bit more, but they don’t have huge capacities before six months’ time.”
Emirati Energy Minister Suhail Al Mazroui clarified on Twitter that “the UAE is producing near to our maximum production capacity based on its current OPEC+ production baseline” of 3.168 million barrels per day. He said the Gulf state would stay “committed” to the same baseline until the end of the year.
Western countries have been looking for ways to curb Russia’s revenue from the oil trade, all while trying to avoid further energy price hikes at home. Saudi Arabia and the UAE were seen as nations with spare capacity to boost oil production in order to reduce prices, according to Reuters.
The G7, which comprises the US, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Japan, agreed on Tuesday to explore imposing a price cap on Russian oil imports. “We invite all like-minded countries to consider joining us in our actions,” the group’s leaders said in a joint statement.
Many countries, including EU and NATO members, imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia after Moscow launched its military campaign in Ukraine in late February.
Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.