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Oil prices soaring due to Trump’s withdrawal from Iran deal: Democrats

US President Donald Trump speaks before signing the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, DC, on May 24, 2018. (AFP photo)

US Senate Democrats have slammed Donald Trump for not taking steps to lower oil prices, saying that the president’s decision to withdraw from the multinational Iran nuclear deal is a factor in increasing gas prices.

Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer held a press conference at a Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on Wednesday to urge Trump to prod Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to adopt measures to lower rising prices, Reuters reported.

Schumer said that gasoline prices had jumped 25 percent since Trump took office in January 2017. Trump’s major foreign policy blunders, such as imposing sanctions on Venezuela and walking away from the Iran nuclear deal, have helped fuel oil prices at a three-year high.

On May 8, Trump announced his decision to withdraw the United States from nuclear deal despite efforts by the European allies to convince him to stay in the 2015 agreement.

Trump also signed a presidential memorandum to impose the “highest level of sanctions” against Iran and said the US would punish companies and countries that violate those sanctions.

Schumer criticized Trump over the withdrawal from the nuclear agreement and exhorted the president to “stand up to OPEC” over the price issue.  

“It’s time for this president to stand up to OPEC,” he said.

“He’s palling around with the Saudis and the UAE and all these other oil-rich countries. Why doesn’t he ask them to lower their prices?” Schumer said, added that Trump “should buck his oil industry buddies.”

In a letter to Trump, Schumer and other Democrats including Rob Menendez and Ed Markey called on the president to send Energy Secretary Rick Perry to a June 22 OPEC meeting in Vienna to raise the oil prices issue, a suggestion shrugged off by analysts.

“The influence of the US on an OPEC meeting is basically zero,” said Thomas Cape, senior analyst at Evercore ISI in New York.

Due to Trump’s controversial foreign policy decisions, the price of gasoline in America has climbed 19 percent this year to $2.95 per gallon, the highest level since November 2014.

The top official in the French oil giant Total anticipates a new rising trend in oil prices would continue, saying he would not be surprised to see a barrel of crude reach the $100 mark in coming months.

Patrick Pouyanné said at an event held by a Washington think tank last week that new geopolitical developments continued to affect the international oil markets, citing issues like a potential ban on Iran’s oil sale due to the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal as well as Venezuela’s inability to properly tap its oil reserves due to economic problems.

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