Aug. 9 (UPI) — Considerations regarding the supply of oil to customers and countries around the world won’t be swayed by political issues, Saudi Arabia’s oil minister said.
Saudi Minster of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources Khalid al-Falih said his government’s policy is to meet market considerations first.
“He reiterated that this is a firm and longstanding policy that is not influenced by political circumstances,” a readout Thursday from the official Saudi Press Agency stated.
The statement follows several developments on the diplomatic posture for Riyadh.
The Saudi government severed diplomatic ties with Canada, expelled its ambassador, cut off bilateral trade and investments and halted all flights to and from the country.
The fallout stems from a call last week from the Canadian government to release imprisoned women’s rights activists Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sadah. Badawi is the sister of Raif Badawi, a prominent human rights campaigner who was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2014 on charges of insulting Islam. His wife and children are naturalized Canadian citizens. Samar Badawi and Sadah were arrested last week in what global human rights groups called a crackdown on dissent in Saudi Arabia.
“(Falih) also clarified that the current diplomatic crisis between Saudi Arabia and Canada will not, in any way, impact Saudi Aramco’s relations with its customers in Canada,” the official press agency’s report read.
Saudi Arabia is the de facto leader of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and holds some of the largest reserves of oil in the world, though Canada has significant reserves of its own.
Outside of the dispute with Ottawa, Saudi Arabia has come under fire from its regional rival, Iran, for producing more oil. An OPEC agreement to keep the global oil market in balance with voluntary production arrangements limits what each member state can do, though Saudi production has been credited with offsetting real and expected market shortages.
Elsewhere, U.S. President Donald Trump has called on Riyadh to keep the spigot open as sanctions pressure could isolate Iran, the third-largest producer in OPEC, from the global market by November. In June, the president stated through his Twitter account that he hoped OPEC would “increase output substantially” in order to keep the price of oil lower.