Trump renews attack on OPEC ahead of group's production meeting

Opec and its allies have been curbing supply since January 2017 to boost oil prices and cut bloated global inventories

Oil prices are set, for the most part, by Saudi Arabia and, to a lesser extent, it's OPEC partners.

But it's more complicated than that.

Crude has more than doubled since bottoming out below $30 a barrel in early 2016, causing USA motorists to face the highest gasoline prices since late 2014.

On Wednesday, the national average for a gallon of regular stood at $2.91, up 25 percent from a year ago, according to the AAA auto club. The development is likely to weigh on Opec energy ministers, who are expected to discuss a plan to end the production cut deal later this month. Trump wrote on Twitter in April.

OPEC is the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Members of the cartel, led by Saudi Arabia, and other big producers including Russian Federation have played a role in reversing the plunge in crude prices that started in 2014.

The president has been vocal about his dissatisfaction with oil prices in the past.

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USA bank Morgan Stanley said OPEC and its partners had "largely achieved their stated objective of rebalancing the oil market".

Exxon Mobil (XOM) shares closed down 1.1% at 81.51 on the stock market today. Flynn compared that to eliminating the fourth-largest oil producer in the world. But the countries pushing for looser policy face staunch opposition from Iran and Venezuela, both under sanctions from Washington. Most analysts expect production there to go even lower.

However, OPEC's president, Suhail Al Mazrouei, said on Tuesday that the US has not asked the group to increase oil production in the wake of political unrest in oil-rich Venezuela and USA sanctions on Iran.

Longer term, the market could tighten as demand increases if OPEC fails to cover supply shortfalls, the International Energy Agency said on Wednesday.

In part because of strong demand, USA crude inventories C-STK-T-EIA fell by 4.1 million barrels in the week to June 8, to 432.4 million barrels.

US companies have filled some of the gap created by Venezuela, OPEC and non-OPEC producers including Russian Federation.

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Although Saudi Arabia has benefited from oil's rally over the last two years, the government relies on a strong security relationship with the US, giving Washington some influence in the debate over OPEC policy.

Oil prices have eased slightly in recent weeks. Saudi Arabia has already started pumping more crude. Russia's production was 11.1 million barrels a day in June, exceeding its quota, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Trump's latest tweet comes ahead of a gathering of OPEC members on June 22. "Not good!", the president tweeted on Wednesday morning.

OPEC is under scrutiny in Congress, too.

The talks come within less than two months of oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan proposing an alliance between Indian and Chinese staterun oil companies for a greater say in the market. "At current prices USA oil producers are still losing money".

Oil pumpjacks are seen in Lagunillas, Venezuela May 24, 2018. He previously covered the Trump White House.

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Charles Schumer, the leader of Senate Democrats, recently linked $3-plus gasoline to Trump's decision to revive sanctions on Iran.

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