U.S. asks OPEC producers to pump more oil, no specific figure

DUBAI/LONDON (Reuters) – The United States government has unofficially asked Saudi Arabia and some other OPEC producers to raise oil output, but it has not requested a specific figure, three OPEC and industry sources said on Tuesday.

The U.S. request to raise output has been made unofficially from Washington to each of the oil producers rather than to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries as a group, the sources said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Bloomberg reported that the U.S. government had asked Saudi Arabia and some other OPEC producers to increase oil production by about 1 million barrels per day (bpd).

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on May 8, the day that President Donald Trump announced Washington would “withdraw” from the Iran nuclear deal and re-impose sanctions on Tehran, that some countries were willing to increase oil output to offset losses to the global market.

A spokeswoman at the White House’s National Security Council, asked about requests for more oil output, said: “We welcome any market-based action that increases energy access and fosters a healthy global economy.”

OPEC is in the midst of a supply-cutting deal with Russia and other non-members. With oil recently reaching $80 a barrel, the highest level since 2014, producers are discussing easing some of the cutbacks and will meet to set policy later in June.

“Any decision has to be a collective decision and taken after debate. Now the most important thing for OPEC is to keep this group together,” an OPEC source said.

“Even if the U.S. has asked for 1 million, does it mean that OPEC and its allies would raise by 1 million?” the source said.

Reuters reported on May 25 that the producers were considering a supply increase of 1 million bpd, with a final decision to be made at the June 22-23 meeting in Vienna of OPEC and non-OPEC ministers.

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