Saudi Arabia and UAE Welcome British Prime Minister for Oil Talks, America Leads from Behind with Biden

Boris Johnson, United Kingdom (UK) Prime Minister traveled ​to Abu Dhabi on Wednesday and met the Crown Prince of United Arab Emirates (UAE), Mohammed bin Zayed at Nayhan. He then traveled on to Saudi Arabia to meet with theCrown Prince Mohammed bin Salman later Wednesday, according to the Wall Street Journal. Johnson was reportedly set to deliver a message on behalf of the West, urging the two oil-rich nations to boost production. 

Johnson traveled to the Middle East to discuss increased oil production with leaders after they reportedly snubbed the requests of U.S. President Joe Biden’s requests to meet them for the same reasons.

“The Prime Minister set out his deep concerns about the chaos unleashed by Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, and stressed the importance of working together to improve stability in the global energy market,” the British government said in a readout of Johnson’s meeting with the UAE leader on Wednesday.

“The leaders welcomed the longstanding partnership between our two countries and discussed opportunities to increase collaboration between the UK and UAE on energy security, green technology, and trade.” the statement said.

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia has caused uncertainty in global markets, causing higher oil and gasoline prices around the world. Russia is a major supplier of crude oil to the U.S. and European countries and exports most of the energy it produces.

In the meantime, the Saudi and UAE leaders declined to take calls from Biden to discuss oil productions and prices amid the Ukraine crisis, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on March 8. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, “The report by WSJ is inaccurate,” during a March 10 press briefing. Psaki added, “The president spoke with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud several weeks ago.”

A White House statement said that Biden spoke with the Saudi Arabian king on February 25, but the two leaders didn’t discuss energy security or the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Over the last several months the Biden administration has repeatedly called upon the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting countries (OPEC), the powerful Middle Eastern oil cartel of which Saudi Arabia and the UAE are core members, to produce more oil amid a global supply crunch. OPEC, has rebuffed the request, instead sticking to its previous pandemic plans.

According to the Energy Information Administration, Saudi Arabia and the UAE sent about 456,000 barrels of oil per day to the U.S. last year. The U.S. consumes about 20 million barrels of oil per day and imported nearly 1.6 million barrels of oil per day from OPEC+ nations in 2021. 

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