Joe Biden will make his first visit as US president to Saudi Arabia on Friday, where he will seek to persuade Riyadh to pump more oil to bring down prices that are fuelling inflation to the highest levels in decades.
Prior to his election, Biden had vowed that Saudi should be a “pariah” state following the 2018 murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in a recalibration of relations with the oil-producing country that is a kingpin of the OPEC oil cartel.
However, since then, key crude producer Russia had invaded Ukraine, propelling oil prices to levels last seen during the 2008 global financial crisis.
That pushed US inflation to the highest rate in more than four decades — and this could yet persuade Biden to set aside human rights concerns before key US midterm elections in November, experts say.
“It highlights his desperation ahead of the midterms to at least be seen to be trying to alleviate the tightness in the market and bring prices back down,” OANDA analyst Craig Erlam told AFP.
“Desperate times call for desperate measures.”
OPEC deal expiring
Biden’s chances could be boosted by the looming expiry of a crucial deal among the wider so-called OPEC+ group to boost oil production.
OPEC+ comprises the 13-nation Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries led by Saudi Arabia and its 10 partners headed by Russia.
The group had previously slashed output in 2020, when demand was decimated by Covid pandemic lockdowns worldwide.
But since last year, countries have been gradually reopening the taps as economies rebound.
Last month, OPEC+ stuck to a previously agreed output hike, shrugging off calls for bigger increases to tame elevated prices.
The deal will soon run its course once OPEC+ returns to pre-pandemic production after August.
“The expiration of the OPEC+ deal in September does create an opportunity and perhaps (Biden) would not be making such a move if he had not been assured that something is possible,” said Erlam.
The grouping will hold its next production gathering in August.
Yet Biden’s hopes for more oil could be dashed because elevated crude prices, despite recent losses, have energised state revenues and economies across the Middle East.
“It would be a massive surprise if Saudi Arabia produced more oil,” said independent analyst Stephen Innes.
Saudi Arabia’s oil-driven economy expanded by 9.6 percent in the first quarter, its strongest growth rate in a decade.
There is a “significant economic incentive to not increase production”, said XTB analyst Walid Koudmani.
Riyadh is already pumping close to maximum capacity.
In May, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan stated that the kingdom had “done what it could” for the oil market.
The industry needed to increase refining capacity instead of simply pumping more barrels of crude, he argued.
The Iran question
Iran is another major bone of contention between the United States and Saudi Arabia.
Riyadh is leading a fight against the Houthi rebels in Yemen, who are supported by Tehran.
Meanwhile, Washington wants to restore the Iran nuclear deal abandoned by Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump in 2018.
That could lead to the lifting of US economic sanctions on Iran — and pave the way for a return to the OPEC member’s full export capacity.
Chief negotiators from the US and Iran held indirect talks in Qatar in June, in a bid to revive the nuclear deal.
A nuclear deal “appeared to be within reach several times in the recent past, particularly after the start of the Russia-Ukraine conflict”, said analyst Koudmani.
“It has failed to gain any traction and would likely be passed up by the US if they were to receive assurances (of higher oil output) from Saudi Arabia after this visit from President Biden,” the expert concluded.
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Nigeria At 63: Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodima Calls For Peace & Unity
Hope Uzodima Calls For Peace & Unity
IMO state governor, Hope Uzodima has called for peace and unity among the people of Nigeria in a statement he made to commemorate Nigeria’s 63rd independence anniversary.
“Today, we commemorate not just a historic event, but the unyielding spirit, resilience, and unity of our people in the face of numerous challenges and triumphs. Therefore, it is both an honor and a privilege to address you on this auspicious occasion of our great nation’s 63rd Independence Day anniversary.
This day, 63 years ago, marked the beginning of our journey towards independence and since then, we have made significant strides in various aspects of our nation’s development. As a diverse and vibrant tapestry of cultures, traditions and aspirations, we have weathered storms and celebrated victories together as a nation, always standing tall in the face of adversity.
I commend the indomitable spirit of our people who have shown resilience in the face of adversity and I want to assure you that my administration remains committed to addressing the pressing issues that affects the State, in collaboration with the Federal Government. We are working tirelessly to improve healthcare, education, infrastructure and security, among other vital sectors, to ensure a better quality of life for all.
As we raise our flags and sing our national anthem, let us do so with pride, knowing that our best days are yet to come. Let us use this Independence Day as an opportunity to renew our commitment to the ideals of unity, peace, and progress. Together, we can overcome any obstacle and realize the full potential of Nigeria.
Happy 63rd Independence Day, Nigeria! May our nation continue to flourish and may our State prosper.”
– Hope Uzodimma
Tinubu’s Minister Poisoned In Abuja
Popular Tinubu’s Minister Poisoned In Abuja
Nigerian tourism minister has been hospitalised in Abuja after suffering acute poisoning from unknown origins, her family members fear time was running against their efforts to save her life.
Tinubu’s Minister, Lola Ade-John, 60, was rushed to the Federal Medical Centre, Jabi, shortly after she started manifesting symptoms of her poisoning, according to family sources familiar with her ordeal. She has spent four days at the facility as of Friday morning.
Ms Ade-John, a career banker and tech investor, has been on a machine to aid her breathing, our sources said. The specifics as to what substance she ingested and how could not be immediately established. The police and the State Security Service did not immediately return a request on whether or not any investigations had been opened into the matter.
Her worsening situation has further set the family against the government, with the permanent secretary of her ministry said to be in disagreement as to whether she should continue receiving treatment at a public hospital or be moved to a better-equipped private facility downtown.
The permanent secretary, Ngozi Onwudike, was said to have insisted that the minister should not be transferred because the FMC is a public hospital and its services wouldn’t attract substantial charges to the government, a position her family rebuffed. But they remained with her as they could not raise funds to move her to a private hospital, our sources said. A phone number for the permanent secretary did not connect on Friday morning.
Ms Ade-John was appointed as a minister by President Bola Tinubu in August. She was immediately touted as one of the few cabinet members appointed from outside the political beltway. She was based in London for years before she was asked to return to the country to serve by the president.
Mohbad’s Old Tweets Resurfaces After Naira Marley Claimed He Never Assualted Him (Photos)
Old tweets of late singer Ilerioluwa Aloba better known as Mohbad recounting an attack launched by some people in the Marlian Music squad have surfaced on social media following the release of a statement by former boss, Naira Marley saying he had never assualted nor instructed anyone to attack Mohbad
The thread of posts dated October 6, 2022, on X (formerly known as Twitter) was dug up by Nigerians to counter Naira Marley’s claims.
He posted, “We were in the studio, and Some of the guys who work with Naira- Sid, Shuddy, Seyi and others- were present, as well as Naira and Tunde. I noticed Tunde was quite agitated as we started the discussion. In the middle of the conversation, Tunde became violent and attacked me. The guys I was with were also attacked, humiliated and stripped naked by Sid, Shuddy and Seyi and some of the other boys. We were barely able to escape. 3 of us had to be checked into the hospital to get medical care for the injuries sustained during the assault.”
The post also stated that Naira Marley was present during the alleged attacks and coordinated some of them.
“Naira Marley was fully present throughout this event, and in fact, coordinated some of the attack as he instructed the boys to beat us up. Some of this was captured on video. It is therefore disrespectful for Naira Marley to insinuate that I started the attack because I was intoxicated as he is fully aware of the facts and circumstances surrounding this violent attack,” it read.
In Naira Marley’s statement released on Tuesday, he debunked claims of him attacking Mohbad or instructing anyone to do so.
“For the avoidance of doubt I have never instructed anyone, friend, known associates or fans to attack, bully or harass Mohbad. With regards to the talent on the label, none of our artists ever fought or mistreated Mohbad,” he said.
The singer also said in the statement that he would be coming to Nigeria to assist the police investigating Mohbad’s death.
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