White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan. Source: Reuters
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  • The United States calls on OPEC to increase oil output as part of an effort to tackle rising gas prices
  • OPEC cut production at the start of the pandemic by 10 million barrels per day in an attempt to offset a slump in demand
  • Since then, production has been gradually raised, with cuts eased to around 5.8 million barrels per day as of July
  • Biden has set a goal to decarbonise the US economy by 2050 and has paused new drilling lease auctions on federal lands

US President Joe Biden’s administration called on Wednesday for an increase in oil output as part of an effort to tackle rising gas prices that could threaten the world’s recovery from COVID-19.

The request to the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) reflects the White House’s willingness to engage major oil producers for greater supply, even as it looks to secure a leadership position in the fight against climate change.

Jake Sullivan, national security adviser to Biden, criticised big drilling nations, like Saudi Arabia, for what he said were insufficient crude production levels in the aftermath of the pandemic.

“At a critical moment in the global recovery, this is simply not enough,” he said.

In the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak, OPEC and its members implemented a record production cut of 10 million barrels per day — roughly 10 per cent of global output — in an attempt to offset a major slump in demand. Since then, production has been gradually raised, with cuts eased to around 5.8 million barrels per day as of July.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the request to OPEC was aimed at long-term engagement designed to end anti-competitive practices, not necessarily at generating an immediate response.

Biden has set a goal to decarbonise the US economy by 2050 and has paused new drilling lease auctions on federal lands, pending a review of the environmental and climate impacts.

As a result, he’s drawn criticism for what some lawmakers say is a clash of priorities.

“It’s pretty simple: if the President is suddenly worried about rising gas prices, he needs to stop killing our own energy production here on American soil,” said Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the top oil producing state in the US.

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