Interesting new development in high oil price saga

US President Donald Trump has drawn a line in the sand about high oil prices and allegations that supply is being manipulated behind the scenes by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec).

Armed with proposed legislation, No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act (Nopec), the US is considering instituting anti-trust lawsuits against Opec members accused of suspected oil supply suppression and related price fiddling.

According to Reuters, Nopec has “lain dormant” for years, “with previous American presidents signalling that they would veto any move to make it law”.

Matters have been further complicated by strained diplomacy between the US and Saudi Arabia, a leading Opec member, following the suspicious disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi from the Middle Eastern oil producer’s embassy in Istanbul.

Now, for the first time in Opec history, the organisation has urged its members “not to mention oil prices when discussing policy, as the oil producing group seeks to avoid the risk of US legal action for manipulating the market”, Reuters reported.

It is furthermore reported that White House developments have made “Opec and its unofficial leader, Saudi Arabia, nervous about what it might mean for Nopec.

“The decision to refrain from discussing a preferred oil price level – one way the group can guide market expectations – underlines how Trump’s aggressive stance on the oil market is unsettling Opec and testing ties between allies Riyadh and Washington,” the news agency said.

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