Saudi Oil Minister Attacks Macron's Move to Raise Fuel Prices

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih attacked France’s attempt to raise taxes on fuel and warned other governments of the risks to making fuel more expensive.

"What’s happening in France and in many European countries is governments unreasonably taxing energy to basically subsidize other policies they have," said Al-Falih in an interview at the United Nations climate talks in Poland.

It’s unusual for Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, to directly criticize the oil policies of consuming nations and the comments run against efforts to reduce global demand for fossil fuels to mitigate the impact of global warming.

President Emmanuel Macron’s planned fuel price increases, designed to curb fossil-fuel consumption, caused widespread and occasionally violent protests across France. The prime minister announced a suspension of increases on Tuesday.

Such taxes undermine attempts by producers such as Saudi Arabia to supply Europe with "plentiful and affordable" energy supplies, Al-Falih said.

"Saudi Arabia released a lot of oil over the last 6 months. The reason we did that was to make sure that energy supplies are plentiful and affordable," he said. "Yet consumer countries go and impose tax after tax after tax and take up the slack that we are releasing. That is not fair."

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.