OPEC will make decisions by keeping politics at bay, as per Saudi Arabia’s oil minister, favouring the “common good” of stabilizing energy prices.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, governments and international organizations worldwide imposed punitive sanctions and severed economic ties with the country. Still, OPEC — the intergovernmental organization of 13 oil-exporting countries — appears unwilling to act against Russia, a key partner in the broader OPEC+ alliance and a major oil exporter.
Prince Abdulaziz Al Saud, who is the energy minister of Saudi, told CNBC on Tuesday that the organization’s entire existence hinged on keeping its objective of stabilizing oil prices separate from other geopolitical issues, even in the event of an internationally condemned invasion.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates voted in favour of a United Nations General Assembly resolution earlier this month urging Russia to cease the invasion and withdraw all troops. Prince Abdulaziz said the Kingdom could express its views on Russia’s actions in other forums, in line with the global response.
“When it comes to OPEC+,” Prince Abdulaziz told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble at the World Government Summit in Dubai on Tuesday, “I would take the opportunity of saying I’ve been at it for 35 years, and I know how we tackled to manage our political differences from what is for the common welfare of all of us.”
“That culture has crept into OPEC+, so when we walk into that OPEC conference room or that OPEC building, everyone leaves their politics outside the door, and that culture has stayed with us.”
OPEC and OPEC+, 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.
“We’ve managed to keep OPEC+ because we address these problems, these challenges, in a completely compartmentalized manner, whereby we’re far more focused on the common good, regardless of politics,” he continued.
UAE Energy Minister Suhail Al Mazrouei supported Prince Abdulaziz’s remarks, emphasizing that the organization continued operating while constituent nations were at odds without taking sides. Its sole mission, he stressed, is to “stabilize the market.”
“Our goal is to calm the market by attempting to increase volumes as much as possible, and if we ask anyone to leave, we will raise rates,” he explained.
“Then we’re doing something that goes against what consumers want, what people in many nations worldwide are pleading for because they can’t possibly pay where prices could go.”
Countries could unilaterally refuse to purchase Russian oil, said Al Mazrouei. It would contradict ethos, he further said.