U.S., Saudi Energy Chiefs to Keep Talks Ongoing at G20 Meet

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump’s top energy official said he had a “productive discussion” with his Saudi counterpart over the weekend about the instability in oil markets.

U.S. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette and his Saudi counterpart, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, agreed to continue talks through a meeting of G20 energy ministers that will be held “in the near future.” Brouillette said he reiterated in the discussion that “what began as a dispute between Saudi Arabia and Russia has major implications for the United States and the world,” according to a transcript released by the Energy Department.

Trump has attempted to broker a deal between the Saudis and Russians, whose price war for market share has combined with the coronavirus pandemic to spur a massive drop in oil demand, undercutting global prices. In an interview with Fox Business, Brouillette said the meeting of energy ministers from the Group of 20 top industrialized nations could happen later this week.

A meeting of OPEC+ and others -- already delayed once -- is tentatively set for Thursday. Russia and Saudi Arabia want the U.S. to join in, but Trump has so far shown little willingness to do so.

Also see: Oil pares loss as investors weigh chance of price-war truce

Brouillette repeated that he’s going to look for further storage opportunities for drillers that are fast running out of space to store their excess barrels. Last week, he made 30 million barrels of storage capacity available from the nation’s emergency oil reserve. “Oil prices being what they are, It’s a great time to fill this petroleum reserve,” he said.

All options are on the table to help the struggling industry, according to the energy secretary. “The president made that very very clear,” he said. “For those that would take a predatory advantage of the U.S. market, the president will react accordingly.”

Trump has threatened substantial oil tariffs should prices remain close to their lowest levels in almost two decades. However, he’s also made it clear that he expects the former allies to reach a deal on cutting back production.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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