Will US Use 'NOPEC' To Counter OPEC

by Swarajya Staff - Oct 7, 2022 01:14 PM +05:30 IST
Will US Use 'NOPEC' To Counter OPECUS President Joe Biden

The Biden administration has indicated that it is open to take legislative route to counter oil cartel OPEC.

OPEC and its allies had earlier this week announced deep cut in crude oil output despite extensive lobbying by US.

The Saudi Arabia and Russia led OPEC+ cartel in its recent meeting had agreed to lower production targets by 2 million bpd.

Responding to the OPEC's decision, Brian Deese, director of the White House’s National Economic Council, on Thursday (6 October), told the reporters that the US was looking at further sales from its strategic stockpile to counter the OPEC move.

Deese further said that Biden administration will also consult with Congress on "additional measures" to reduce OPEC’s control over energy prices.

The "additional measures" apparently referred to anti-cartel legislation known as NOPEC bill that has long been considered by US lawmakers but never passed.

What is NOPEC

The No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels (NOPEC) bill is a US legislation that could open members of oil producing group OPEC+ to antitrust lawsuits.

The bill, which passed a Senate committee earlier in May, is intended to protect US consumers and businesses from engineered oil spikes.

The bipartisan NOPEC bill has been designed to remove the state immunity shield and to allow the international oil cartel OPEC+, and its national oil companies to be sued under US antitrust law for anti-competitive attempts to limit the world's supply of petroleum and the consequent impact on oil prices.

The sovereign immunity protects OPEC+ members and their national oil companies from being sued under US antitrust law.

If signed into law, the US attorney general would gain the option to sue the oil cartel or its members, such as Saudi Arabia, in US federal court.

Concerns over NOPEC

The proposed legislation, according to the American oil industry,could ultimately lead to overproduction by OPEC, bringing prices so low that US energy companies may have difficulty boosting output.

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia and other OPEC countries have some of the world's cheapest and easiest reserves to produce, enabling them to continue production even at a lower price.

Will Biden administration push for passage of NOPEC bill

The White House had earlier raised concerns about the bill.

However, after the OPEC decision, the Biden administration is likely to consult with the Congress about the legislation.

In the press conference on Thursday (6 October), when asked about the NOPEC bill, White House's National Economic Council director Brian Deese, said, "We’re going to consult with Congress on additional measures. There are a number of those that have been put forward, debated for some time, and we’re going to engage because we need to look at whether and what tools are — are necessary in that context".

"The President has directed us, and it continues to be the case, is to take nothing off of the table and to assess the situation and bring recommendations and take recommendations," Deese added.

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