US President Donald Trump has warned the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) not to "manipulate" oil prices.
Asked in an interview with Fox News on Sunday whether he thought there were forces that manipulated the market, Trump was quick to point fingers at OPEC.
“OPEC is [manipulating the market] and they better stop it,” said the businessman-turned-politician. “Because we are protecting those countries; many of those countries.”
Oil prices are approaching $80 a barrel for the first time since 2014 and this has stoked rising concerns among major consumers, particularly in the auto-dependent US. American crude closed at $74.15 a barrel at the end of Wall Street trading on Friday.
Earlier this month, OPEC and other oil producing countries, including Russia, agreed to boost production by 1 million barrels per day from July 1.
That means Russia will raise output by more than 200,000 bpd while Saudi Arabia looks at pumping nearly 11 million bpd.
The change in OPEC’s production output comes against the backdrop of a pledge by Trump to renew US sanctions against Iran and amid growing political turmoil in Venezuela. This which could cut worldwide production by 2 million bpd.
Having tweeted about OPEC on at least 63 times since 2011, Trump has repeatedly accused the group of “ripping us off.” He has also claimed that crude oil should cost no more than $25 a barrel.
The president’s most recent shot at the organization came on Saturday when he said Saudi Arabia’s King Salman had agreed on the phone with him to boost output 2 million bpd to compensate lower production in Venezuela and potentially Iran.
"During the call, the two leaders stressed the need to make efforts to maintain the stability of oil markets and the growth of the global economy," said the state-run Saudi Press Agency.
Salman and Trump reportedly agreed that oil-producing countries would need "to compensate for any potential shortage of supplies."
Trump repeated his point on Sunday, saying that the drop in production was one of the downsides of his May 8 move in leaving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
However, he said OPEC had to compensate for the lost 2 million bpd that because “Iran is their biggest enemy.”
“Who is their biggest enemy? Iran,” he said. “So they have to do it.”