US President Joe Biden will be visiting Saudi Arabia later this month. This comes after several European visits to address issues related to the Ukraine War and the worldwide energy crisis.
With the rising cost of gasoline in the United States in recent months, hitting a record high of 5$ per gallon, oil production will be a top priority during the president’s visit to the kingdom.
The visit might also be part of a larger plan set in motion by the American administration to limit the consequences of curbing the flow of Russian oil, as Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen is traveling across Asia to help avert an increase to $7 per gallon gasoline.
However, the White House has been very reluctant to cite the energy crisis as the main reason for the visit, instead citing the normalization of negotiations between Israel and Arab countries, ending the war in Yemen, and the Iran nuclear deal.
The oil-rich kingdom has garnered a bad reputation with the American public and even with Washington’s elite, especially within the democratic party.
The cited reasons may be a strategic choice to avoid criticism from the president’s party and his supporters, as Saudi Arabia and its Crown Prince Mohamad Bin Salman have been accused of several human rights violations, including the murder of part American journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.
Publicly asking the Saudi Prince to help ease the energy crisis might distort the president’s moral stance towards the kingdom.
However, an increase in Saudi Arabian oil production might ease rising consumer prices in the United States, making the politically risky visit worthwhile for the president.
The Gulf States might be able to meet the demand for non-Russian oil and gas, as the war in Ukraine has pushed the west, mainly Europeans, to end their reliance on Russian energy.
Just this week, British energy giant Shell bought a stake in a Qatari gas field expansion project, also as a way to shift away from Russian gas.
Many European Union members, including its largest economy, Germany, rely heavily on natural gas for electricity and power, prompting fears of a Russian cut-off during the coming winter across the continent.
Just last Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that continued sanctions on his country would risk an energy price spike, causing a “catastrophe” for consumers worldwide.
On Wednesday, the European Parliament voted to include Gas and Nuclear Energy as “Green”, prompting the European Greens to announce, in a tweet, that they will “continue to fight for a complete phase out of fossil fuels and a transition to 100% renewable energy”.
France has also decided to promote “energy sovereignty” by re-nationalizing its biggest energy company, Électricité de France, or EDF for short.
On the other hand, Germany announced that it would start operating Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminals at ports in early 2023 to begin importing the resource and ending its reliance on Russian gas imports.