Why OPEC’s cuts shouldn’t have been a surprise — and may not hurt as much as you might think

“Gross’s take is straightforward: Arab states are simply pursuing their self-interest in keeping oil prices high. She cautioned against seeing the OPEC+ decision as a choice by the group between the US and Russia. Today is not like the Cold War, when many Middle Eastern states balanced between Washington and Moscow, seeking to extract maximum benefits from both superpowers and hedging in case either bloc won.
Besides, although the cut might boost oil prices, Gross says the prospects for Russia’s future oil revenues are potentially quite dim, as the G7 and the European Union prepare to implement new measures that could substantially reduce Putin’s proceeds from oil. Moreover, the actual production cut is likely to be around 1 million barrels per day — not 2 million — because many OPEC+ members weren’t meeting their quotas anyway, according to Gross.”

Sorry, Biden, Gas Stations Can’t Just ‘Bring Down the Price’

“More than half the gas stations in the country are single-store operations run by an individual or a family, according to the Association for Convenience and Fuel Retailing (NACS), a trade association representing the stores that sell more than 80 percent of the

4 factors that could determine if gas prices will keep falling

“Several factors have pushed gas prices down, including a drop in oil prices as recession fears grow and a smaller-than-expected impact from Western sanctions on Russia. Supply has also improved relative to demand, which has slightly fallen in recent weeks and remains at levels lower than a year ago, according to data from the US Energy Information Administration.”

WHAT CAUSED THE 2021/2 INCREASE IN GAS PRICES?–Video Sources

How Much Of The Gasoline Price Surge Is President Biden’s Fault? Robert Rapier. 2022 3 13. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/rrapier/2022/03/13/how-much-of-the-gasoline-price-surge-is-president-bidens-fault/?sh=31618bce7c8b 4 reasons high gas prices aren’t Joe Biden’s fault—and one critical way he’s adding to the problem Will Daniel. 2022 6 8. Fortune. https://www.yahoo.com/video/4-reasons-high-gas-prices-090000545.html

Blame High Gas Prices on Red Tape

“as CNN pointed out not long ago, oil companies used to respond like other businesses to rising prices by increasing supply. Burying their industry in red tape and choking off access to capital has been a very effective signal to rethink their entire business strategy. Oil industry insiders may coast along and enjoy the profits from existing capacity, but they’re unlikely to invest in facilities to meet demand for gasoline, and offset soaring prices, until they’re certain their industry will be allowed a future.”

Biden’s Middle East Trip Pits Human Rights Against Realpolitik

“Though Biden appears willing to overlook Khashoggi’s death in order to shore up America’s access to Saudi oil, he is at least on record as explicitly having condemned that murder. At a November 2019 primary debate, Biden said he would “make [Saudi Arabia] the pariah that they are” and stop arms sales to the Middle Eastern nation. A month after Biden took office, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines released a government report confirming that the Crown Prince directed the assassination. The administration also delayed most weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, in light of its continued involvement in Yemen’s brutal civil war.”

“For many Middle East analysts, Biden’s trip signals pragmatism. “A successful foreign policy for a global power such as the US cannot choose values over interests,” wrote Council of Foreign Relations president Richard Haass in a recent article. “What the Biden administration is contemplating in Saudi Arabia appears to be righting the balance.””

The Gas Tax Makes Sense. Biden Considers Canceling It.

“Fuel taxes paid by motorists are collected in the federal Highway Trust Fund, which is then spent building and maintaining the roads and bridges those same drivers use. The federal gas taxes, excluding the tax on diesel, make up about 60 percent of tax revenue dedicated to the Highway Trust Fund.

Fairness demands charging drivers for the roads. The only alternative would be to require nonmotorists to subsidize driving infrastructure for them.

A user fee-like fuel tax also keeps road spending in line with demand for roads. It’s harder to fund bridges to nowhere if people’s fuel consumption, and the taxes they pay on it, aren’t generating enough revenue for new projects.

Suspending the gas tax, therefore, makes road spending less fair and less efficient. It would also be fiscally costly. Road construction and maintenance don’t become free just because gas prices are high. Suspending the gas tax only gives road users a break from paying for it.”

What Biden wanted in the Middle East — and what he actually got

“Biden, who says he went to the Middle East to address “the needs of the free world,” has explained the strengthening of relationships with Arab states and Israel as a success.

But it’s worth taking a look at what concrete victories that closeness produced.

Saudi airspace will be opened to Israeli planes — an incremental step toward normalizing relations between the two countries, yes, but more of a victory for jetliner rights than human rights. A new peacekeeping arrangement was announced for the Red Sea Islands between Egypt and Saudi Arabia; the islands have been a regional geopolitical touchpoint, but the deal is hardly a major win beyond the region. There was talk of bringing Iraq closer to its neighbors, with a new electricity initiative to connect Iraq with the Middle East. Infrastructure projects totaling about $100 million were announced for Palestinians, including 4G networks for the occupied West Bank. The latter two, while worthwhile, are minor compared to other US development and foreign aid streams of funding — and minuscule compared to annual military aid to Israel.

A moderate success was Saudi Arabia’s ongoing commitment to maintaining a ceasefire in Yemen, a worthy goal considering the destruction wrought there, in part with the support of American weaponry, though hardly an issue that demanded a presidential visit.

As for oil, we haven’t seen any grand announcements. Ahead of the trip, a US official told reporters there wouldn’t be any big energy news, and instead pointed to an announcement a month prior from OPEC that the group of oil-producing nations would increase production.

It has left observers wondering exactly why Biden made the journey.”

“A senior Biden administration official, on the last day of Biden’s Middle East trip, described human rights at the center of America’s goals — “I’d go so far, literally, to say right at the forefront of our foreign policy,” they said.

But human rights is not even at the forefront of the administration’s press releases, fact sheets, and meeting summaries.

The official touted a “Biden doctrine” for the region. In the document, values rank lowest — fifth — after bullet points about partnerships, deterrence, diplomacy, and integration. So partnerships (with unsavory leaders) and deterrence (through our security assistance) are the priorities here.”

“This Biden trip is a preview of US foreign policy in an era of great power competition with China and new fault lines of a world divided by Russian aggression. There are trade-offs. “You sanction Russian oil, and you give power to Middle Eastern autocrats,” Khalidi told me. “The only reason he’s sidling up to these human rights abusers is because of the knock-on effects of the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, and the energy impact of that invasion.”

Or, as Freeman put it, “The message to the people in the region is we only care about you in the context of our great power rivalry.”

Despite the emphasis on Russia, there was little movement on solidifying a Middle East coalition in support of Ukraine. The United Arab Emirates is a major hub for Russian businesspeople and dirty money, and that seems unlikely to change. Egypt is a hot spot for Russian tourists. Saudi Arabia and Israel are still fence-sitters in the Ukraine conflict, hesitant to definitively take a side. While Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE voted to condemn Russia’s invasion in the UN resolution, none has joined the US-led sanctions against Moscow.

Yet all of these regional powers are making demands of the US to take a harder line on Iran and enable them militarily. (Wait, wouldn’t realpolitik be crafting a deal with Iran, and getting more oil production online in the process?)”