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Saudi Rebukes Russia Over Oil Collapse 04/04 10:59

   DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- Saudi Arabia sharply criticized Russia 
on Saturday over what it described as Moscow blaming the kingdom for the 
collapse in global energy prices, showing the tensions ahead of an emergency 
meeting of OPEC and other oil producers.

   Oil prices sharply fell after the so-called OPEC+ group of countries 
including Russia failed to agree to production cuts in early March. A price war 
began soon after, with Saudi Arabia threatening to pump at a record-breaking 
pace to seize back market share even as the coronavirus pandemic saw demand 
sharply drop as airlines worldwide halted flights. 

   International benchmark Brent crude fell to around $24 a barrel, compared to 
prices of over $70 a year ago. Prices slightly have rebounded with President 
Donald Trump tweeting and talking about the need for a production cut, but 
rancor between Saudi Arabia and Russia could imperil a deal emerging from a 
planned teleconference Monday. 

   That anger could be seen early Saturday in two critical statements released 
by the kingdom's state-run Saudi Press Agency. The first came from Saudi 
Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan under the headline: " Statements 
Attributed to One of Russian President's Media Are Completely Devoid of Truth." 

   "Russia was the one that refused the agreement, while the kingdom and 22 
other countries were trying to persuade Russia to make further cuts and extend 
the agreement," the prince said. 

   He also said an alleged Russian contention that "the kingdom was planning to 
get rid of shale oil producers" was false as well. U.S. shale producers have 
made America one of the world's top producers, but they've been hurt badly by 
the price collapse. Trump has met with concerned producers about that.

   Prince Faisal did not identify the story, nor the outlet he was critiquing. 

   A second statement came from Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin 
Salman, one of King Salman's sons. The prince criticized Russian Energy 
Minister Alexander Novak by name for suggesting Saudi Arabia wanted to cut out 
shale producers.

   The prince "expressed his surprise at the attempts to bring Saudi Arabia 
into hostilities against the shale oil industry, which is completely false as 
our Russian friends recognize well," the statement said. 

   Saudi Arabia's statements likely seek to defuse any possible confrontation 
between the kingdom and Trump, who tweeted Thursday that Moscow and Riyadh 
"will be cutting back approximately 10 Million Barrels" without elaborating. 
Trump's tweets and public comments have affected oil prices in the past.  


(KR)

 
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