OPEC is taking a "slow approach" in trimming oil production levels, was the Saudi Arabia Energy Minister's response on Wednesday to U.S. President Donald Trump's latest comment, which urged the cartel to "relax" their output pace as he considers that crude is overly high.
Trump said Monday via social media that crude oil prices are getting too high, and urged OPEC to "relax and take it easy."
"We are taking it easy," said Khalid Al-Falih, the minister of the world's top crude oil exporter, adding, "We are as focused on the interests of the global economy and consumers around the world as we are focused on the interests of producers.”
Al-Falih explained that the 14 Saudi-led OPEC members and the 11 Russia-led non-OPEC oil producing countries are "taking a very slow and measured approach" in their decision to trim their output levels.
"Just as the second half last year proved, we are interested in market stability first and foremost," Al-Falih told U.S. media network CNBC at the 9th International Energy Agency (IEA), the International Energy Forum (IEF) OPEC Symposium on Energy Outlooks held in Riyadh.
OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo also invited Trump to join a dialogue on balancing supply and demand in the global oil market on Wednesday, according to news reports.
Dubbed as OPEC+, OPEC and its allies agreed on Dec. 7 to lower their total oil production by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) for the first six months of 2019. So far, the deal has worked as oil prices climbed to their highest level in three months on Feb. 22.
Higher oil prices also help American shale oil producers in their output and profits. The U.S. has become the world's top crude oil producer in 2018 and its output reached a record high 12.1 million bpd last week.
If oil prices begin falling again due to rising U.S. supply, OPEC+ countries could soon be forced to make another production cut in the second half of this year after the current deal expires at the end of June.
"I am leaning toward the likelihood of an extension in the second half of 2019, but that's not automatic," Al-Falih said.
"So if in June we find out we need to have a different limit, a different target from 1.2 million bpd, certainly it is open. But the easiest way forward, assuming there is still an oversupply, would be to roll over," he said.
By Ovunc Kutlu