Saudi Arabia had publicly expressed its dissatisfaction with the Biden Administration’s lack of assistance for Saudi defense against the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen before. Now, the US Senate has passed the NOPEC Antritrust bill, paving way for Biden to sue OPEC.
According to Reuters, the Senate Judiciary Committee has passed the No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act (NOPEC) bill, setting the stage for a lawsuit targeting OPEC for antitrust and market manipulation if enacted into law by the president.
The US Senate panel voted in support of NOPEC on Thursday. NOPEC has been on and off the table for decades, unable to get through Congressional committees till lately, when gasoline costs in the United States have remained at all-time peak levels.
It is unknown whether the bill, which was passed by the Senate subcommittee, would be sent to the whole Senate or to the U.S. President Joe Biden. . It is still uncertain whether Biden will sign the bill into law.
Major trade groups, such as the US Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute (API), have increased their opposition to NOPEC in recent weeks and months. They are concerned that it will harm America’s oil and gas sector as well as American interests.
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The vote comes at a sensitive time for US-Saudi relations, with Saudi Arabia publicly expressing its dissatisfaction with the Biden Administration’s lack of assistance for Saudi defense against the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen, given the risk Houthi strikes pose to Saudi oil installations.
The Wall Street Journal released an article on Wednesday titled “U.S. Saudi Relations Finally Start to Thaw,” but a NOPEC decision that would allow the US to sue OPEC is likely to stifle the supposed thaw.
CIA Director Bill Burns met in private with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in April attempting to “patch” things up, according to news reports.