Biden is confident of progress with Gulf oil producers in visit

US President Joe Biden is confident he will make progress with Saudi and other Gulf leaders on guaranteeing a "sustainable" level of energy production from the region, his top national security aide said.

American officials have engaged in talks with Arab partners and with officials in Europe and Asia about energy output. Those discussions "have taken a very constructive turn", National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters aboard Air Force One on Wednesday (Jul 13) en route to Israel and Saudi Arabia. 

Sullivan repeatedly predicted Biden will make progress on energy issues during his trip.

"I have confidence that after the president has the opportunity to engage with the Saudi leadership, and with his Gulf partners, he will be able to demonstrate material progress." 

Sullivan said the goal is to guarantee enough supply to lower petrol prices for American consumers and stave off an economic downturn. "We also want that energy supply to be sustainable over time, meaning having spare capacity is a part of the equation," he said. 

Biden has stepped up efforts to lobby Saudi Arabia and other members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) to increase oil production to curb high petrol prices that have battered him politically, months ahead of the decisive midterm elections.

His first Middle East visit will include a Friday meeting with the Saudi leadership, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as well as other meetings with members of the Gulf Cooperation Council. 

The Saudi kingdom and the United Arab Emirates are the only Opec nations with significant unused output. Together they have a buffer of roughly 3 million barrels a day, according to official data.  

Executives at Aramco, the state-controlled Saudi oil giant, have said in closed-door discussions that it can reach 12 million barrels per day within 30 days and sustain that level for at least 90 days, but the company has not tested that production level for an extended period of time. 

Sullivan said that talks continue with India, China and other nations about capping the price of Russian oil but a resolution is not expected within the coming days. "It will take time because of the number of elements that have to be worked through. We are already now engaging with a number of the key consuming countries," he said. BLOOMBERG

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