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May 16, 2022 1:19 PM, EDT

OPEC+ Ministers Say Pumping More Oil Wouldn’t Ease Gas Prices

Abdulaziz bin Salman, Saudi Arabia's energy ministerPrince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Saudi Arabia's energy minister. (Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg News)

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Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said a dearth of refining capacity meant that gasoline and other oil products would remain expensive even if the world’s biggest exporters pumped more crude.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman’s reiteration that there are “physical impediments that no producer can solve,” comes as spiking gasoline and diesel compound inflationary pressures that are worsening a global cost-of-living crisis. At the same time, the determination of OPEC+ to stick to modest supply increases — despite flows from coalition member Russia being disrupted by an international boycott — has drawn the ire of U.S. lawmakers.

“There is no refining capacity commensurate with the current demand and the expectation of the demand in the summer,” the minister said at an energy conference in Bahrain on May 16.

Refinery profit margins graphic

Prince Abdulaziz’s comments were echoed by Bahrain’s Oil Minister, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Bin Ahmed, who said the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its partners are likely to continue to raise output quotas by 432,000 barrels a month.

“There’s no new capacity coming,” he said at the same event. “Even if you produce more crude, there isn’t demand for it, there aren’t any more refineries.”

Fuel prices have surged as efforts to isolate Russia, one of Europe’s most important suppliers, upend international markets. Soaring demand ahead of the peak U.S. driving season is sending refining margins to extraordinary heights, benefiting refiners including Saudi Aramco.

OPEC+ is achieving market balance in its “best performance in maybe more than 50 years,” Iraqi Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul Jabbar said in Bahrain.

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