Saudi energy minister slams release of oil reserves as 'mechanism to manipulate markets'

Saudi Arabia’s energy minister on Tuesday criticized the release of emergency oil reserves, likening it to market manipulation. 

“People are depleting their emergency stocks, had depleted it, used it as a mechanism to manipulate markets while its profound purpose was to mitigate shortage of supply,” Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said during an investor conference in Riyadh Tuesday. 

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy Abdulaziz bin Salman gestures during a panel as part of the annual Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh, on October 25, 2022.  (FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images)

While not naming the U.S. directly, his comments appeared to be directed at President Biden, who said last week he had ordered the release of 15 million barrels from the U.S. strategic reserve. That announcement completed the release of 180 million barrels Biden authorized in March in response to rising oil prices.  

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Prince Abdulaziz said it was his “profound duty to make it clear to the world that losing emergency stock may become painful in the months to come.” 

Earlier this month, ministers from the Saudi-led Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC+) said they would cut production by 2 million barrels a day. The Biden administration said the oil cuts meant Saudi Arabia had effectively sided with Russia in its war against Ukraine. 

“I keep listening, are you with us or against us? Is there any room for, ‘We are for Saudi Arabia and for the people of Saudi Arabia?'” Abdulaziz asked the audience. 

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Asked whether the decadesold alliance between Washington and Saudi Arabia could be mended, Abdulaziz said: “I think we as Saudi Arabia decided to be the mature guys and let the dice fall.” 

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