Saudi Energy Minister Praises Trump’s Pro-Fossil-Fuel Policies

  • Saudis sees no problem with U.S. oil growth: Al-Falih to BBC
  • Kingdom may boost investment in U.S. refining, distribution

President Donald Trump’s energy policies are good for the petroleum industry and Saudi Arabia sees no problem with growth in U.S. oil production as long as it’s in line with demand, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said.

“President Trump has policies which are good for the oil industries,” Al-Falih said in an interview with the BBC. “He has steered away from excessively anti-fossil-fuel, unrealistic fossil-fuel policies.”

Khalid Al-Falih

Photographer: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg

The Saudis, the world’s biggest crude exporters, are not “foes” of the U.S. administration and they find “huge areas of alignment” with the world’s largest energy-consuming nation, he said.

Just after his inauguration on Jan. 20, Trump said he was “committed to achieving energy independence from the OPEC cartel and any nations hostile to our interests,” by exploiting “vast untapped domestic energy reserves,” according to a plan posted on the White House website. The U.S. imported about 3 million barrels a day from OPEC last year, with Saudi Arabia accounting for about a third of that, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Even as Trump commits to ending U.S. reliance on oil from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, the new administration said it would “work with our Gulf allies to develop a positive energy relationship as part of our anti-terrorism strategy.”

This isn’t the first time a U.S. president promises to end the country’s reliance on supplies from OPEC. Former President George W. Bush promised to cut imports from the Middle East when he said in 2006 the nation was “addicted to oil.” Shipments from OPEC rose 10 percent during Bush’s time in office. Every U.S. president going back to Richard Nixon has pledged to reduce the country’s reliance on foreign oil.

Saudi Arabia has invested “billions” of dollars in the U.S. refining and distribution industry and may invest more “on the back of pro-industry, pro-oil and gas policies of the Trump administration,” Al-Falih said.

Al-Falih said he was looking forward to working with Trump’s respective nominees for secretary of the energy and state departments, Rick Perry and former Exxon Mobil Corp. Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson.

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