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Saudi Ally’s Secret Mission Backed Biden’s View on OPEC Output: Report

  • The UAE tried to dissuade Saudi Arabia from supporting an OPEC oil production cut, according to the Wall Street Journal. 
  • National security advisor Sheikh Tahnoun secretly met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in September. 
  • The UAE said an output cut wasn’t economically necessary, echoing the White House’s view. 

The United Arab Emirates sent its national security advisor on a secret mission to Saudi Arabia in September to convince OPEC’s de facto leader not to cut oil production quotas, sources told the Wall Street Journal

The UAE’s Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in Riyadh and warned a cut would risk political backlash and echoed the White House’s view that it was economically unnecessary, according to the report.

A UAE spokesperson told the WSJ that the information concerning bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the meeting in question, and the production cut were inaccurate but didn’t elaborate. 

The UAE and Saudi Arabia are long-time allies that typically align on issues pertaining to energy and security. Last month, the UAE went along with the OPEC+ decision to slash production quotas by 2 million barrels a day, while signaling to the West that it could supply the market with more crude from Emirati production. 

Still, the report on the UAE’s secret mission could indicate a growing split among key players in the oil cartel.

Last month, a top spokesman for the US National Security Council that Saudi Arabia coerced other OPEC members that opposed the output-quota cuts to back its plan.

Countries that were uncomfortable with lowering production included the UAE, Iraq and Bahrain, the Financial Times reported.

Meanwhile, the US-Saudi alliance has deteriorated sharply. After the OPEC+ meeting, the White House accused the oil group of aligning with Russia, and President Joe Biden warned of consequences in relations between Washington and Riyadh.

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