French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday deflated President Joe Biden’s plan to help combat record-high gas prices in the United States.
What is Biden’s plan?
The media have reported widely that Biden planned to use a visit to the Middle East next month to petition oil-producing countries like Saudi Arabia to increase fossil fuel production.
Biden is scrambling to find a solution to the ongoing gas price crisis. Aside from asking other countries to step up production, Biden has demanded domestic energy producers increase their production, leading to criticism from climate change hawks. Oil companies, however, say they are already producing more oil than at any other point in their history.
What did Macron say?
Speaking with Biden on the sidelines of the G7 Summit, Macron was overheard telling Biden that two OPEC member nations — Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — are nearing max production capacity, thus deflating Biden’s plan.
“Excuse me, sorry to interrupt. I had a call with MbZ,” Macron said, referring to UAE leader Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan. “He told me two things. I’m at a maximum, maximum [production capacity]. This is what he claims.
“And then he said [the] Saudis can increase by 150 [thousands barrels per day]. Maybe a little bit more, but they don’t have huge capacities before six months’ time,” the French president explained.
The admission is significant because, as Reuters reported, “Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been perceived as the only two countries in [OPEC] with spare capacity to boost global deliveries that could reduce prices.”
UAE Energy Minister Suhail bin Mohammed Al Mazrouei quickly confirmed the substance of Macron’s disclosure.
“In light of recent media reports, I would like to clarify that the UAE is producing near to our maximum production capacity based on its current OPEC+ production baseline,” the minister said.
Whether or not Biden can depend on OPEC to help alleviate the gas price crisis, Samantha Gross, fellow and director of the Energy Security and Climate Initiative at the Brookings Institution, told The Hill any help will likely make little difference at the gas pump.
“I don’t believe there’s an amount of oil the Saudis could provide that would substantially reduce U.S. gas prices. It will be difficult for Biden to come away with something he can call a win,” Gross said.
Macron tells Biden that UAE, Saudi can barely raise oil output