Legislation that would allow the U.S. to sue OPEC countries is being considered in response to the cartel’s 2M bbl/day production cut this week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday.
“What Saudi Arabia did to help Putin continue to wage his despicable, vicious war against Ukraine will long be remembered by Americans,” Schumer said. “We are looking at all the legislative tools to best deal with this appalling and deeply cynical action,” including the NOPEC bill – the No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act – which would allow the U.S. government to sue OPEC members for price fixing in U.S. courts under the Sherman Antitrust Act and then seize foreign-owned property in the U.S. to pay for any resulting damages.
Following the production cut announcement, Biden administration officials hinted at potential support for the bill, which has broad support among both parties in Congress; Senate Judiciary Committee members Dick Durbin, a Democrat, and Chuck Grassley, a Republican, called Thursday for consideration of it when Congress returns after the November election.
OPEC leaders take the bill seriously and are outraged by threats to pass it, and they might reconsider selling to the U.S. if NOPEC becomes law, Foreign Reports Inc. analyst Matthew Reed said.
With midterm elections coming early next month, analysts say domestic politics could push President Biden to support the legislation, regardless of the potential unintended consequences.
Among other potential U.S. actions, Senator Edward Markey said he will introduce a bill that could allow the U.S. Trade Representative to initiate dispute proceedings at the World Trade Organization.
A ban on exports of gasoline and diesel is possible, and oil industry groups said Biden administration officials refused to rule out such limitations at a meeting last Friday with oil executives.
Most likely, the White House could coordinate another international release of strategic petroleum reserves, even as the U.S. reserve is at its lowest level in 40 years.
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