Trump criticized for asking Saudi Arabia to raise oil output as if he was ‘ordering a coffee’

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Consumers, businesses can digest oil at $70-$90, analyst says

In a tweet posted on Saturday, Trump said Saudi Arabia’s ruler King Salman had agreed to his request and would soon raise oil output by up to 2 million barrels per day (bpd).

Saudi Arabia later acknowledged a call had taken place between the two leaders, but did not mention any production targets.

“This incident with the Saudis and the U.S. administration is just noise … You cannot order 2 million barrels like ordering a coffee somewhere,” Beat Wittmann, a partner at financial consultancy Porta Advisors, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe” Monday.

Oil prices to surpass $100?

The surprise move followed a week in which oil prices had risen to record highs, with U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) climbing above $74 a barrel for the first time since late 2014. The 13 percent surge in crude futures was widely thought to have been partly due to U.S. plans to re-impose sanctions on Iran.

International benchmark Brent crude traded at $78.86 a barrel on Monday, down nearly 0.5 percent, while U.S. WTI stood at $74.05, around 0.2 percent lower.

“I think there will be ongoing upward pressure on oil back towards $100 and perhaps even more,” Wittmann said.

He added that in the absence of a substantial drop in crude demand or a period of sustained global economic weakness; ongoing supply and infrastructure disruptions would continue to push crude futures even higher.

‘Huge amount of uncertainty’

The U.S. president has repeatedly sought to cast blame for surging oil prices on OPEC, the 14-member oil cartel dominated by Saudi Arabia. The group has limited its output for the last 18 months to shrink a global glut of oil that sent crude prices to 12-year lows, bankrupted hundreds of U.S. energy companies and ratcheted up the pressure on so-called petrostates.

Last week, OPEC producers voted to ramp up crude production by up to 1 million barrels per day (bpd), a decision that should help contain the recent rise in global energy prices.

Nonetheless, the U.S. typically experiences an uptick in crude demand during the summer months and that could support prices of gasoline in a midterm election year.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud shakes hands with U.S. President Donald Trump during a reception ceremony in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 20, 2017.

To be sure, it remains unclear to what extent higher gasoline prices would hurt Republicans at the polls, or whether voters will connect Trump’s policies to gas costs. However, the threat of elevated fuel prices comes as the U.S. trade war with its biggest trade partners risks putting upward pressure on consumer prices and denting Americans’ view of the economy.

“We are entering the second half of the year with a huge amount of uncertainty surrounding the supply side of the equation. Depending on your belief you could just as easily bet on $100 as $60 by the end of the year,” PVM Oil Associates strategist Tamas Varga said in a research note published Monday.

— CNBC’s Tom DiChristopher contributed to this report.


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