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White House says OPEC+ ‘aligning’ with Russia following oil production cut

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The undated photo shows the OPEC headquarters in Vienna, Austria.

The White House says the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC+) is "aligning" with Russia after the bloc on Wednesday announced it was cutting oil production by 2m barrels per day, defying US pressure.

"It's clear that OPEC+ is aligning with Russia with today's announcement," White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said aboard Air Force One.

In the wake of Russia’s campaign in Ukraine, the West has gone to great lengths to isolate Russia's economy, which relies in large part on energy exports.

OPEC+, which groups the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers including Russia, has refused to raise output to lower oil prices despite pressure from major consumers, including the United States.

Energy ministers from OPEC+ met in person at the group’s Vienna headquarters on Wednesday for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. They discussed production targets after a drop in oil prices.

The cut could spur a recovery in oil prices that have dropped to about $90 from $120 three months ago.

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said in a Wednesday statement President Joe Biden was disappointed with OPEC+ to cut production quotas. Washington has reportedly put significant lobbying at work to counter the move.

The next releases will continue "as appropriate to protect American consumers and promote energy security and (Biden) is directing the secretary of energy to explore any additional responsible actions to continue increasing domestic production in the immediate term," the statement said.

But those reserves are quickly emptying after record withdrawals ordered by the Biden administration, which started in March. The reserves are now at their lowest level since July 1984 and it is not clear when the administration plans to purchase a refill.

The decision by OPEC+ puts Biden and the Democratic Party in a bind by potentially kickstarting fuel price hikes, just five weeks ahead of midterm elections where the Republicans hope to take control of Congress.

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